Robert Patteri as Percy
SP4: National Tour

The Scarlet Pimpernel : Broadway's Most Intriguing Musical.

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Interview with Ron Bohmer

This is the second part of my interview with Ron Bohmer. If you haven't already done so, you should read the first part.

In this section, Ron shared some more thoughts on Percy, and we discussed his website and his approach to his fans.

Ron with his dog, Griffin

NR: How did the show evolve from the beginning of the tour to when you got to New York? Where there a lot of changes made?

RB: Well, the whole Grappin thing was something we started talking about at the beginning of the tour. We took measurements for a new costume although we didn't know what it was going to be. I talked about some ideas with Jane (Greenwood). I had this kind of a Spanish idea - I wanted a sort of a Spanish influence. She said, "We can do that. Sure." We even talked about making him a Spaniard, just getting rid of the Belgian thing and making him Spanish. Ultimately when everything arrived we realized that wasn't necessary. We just let the costume do the work. That was something we needed to change.

The fop changed a lot for me from the beginning to the end. We went from really going for the laughs in the beginning, having him be really silly in the drawing room, to having him be a little more bitter with her and a little more hurt. Rather than have him immediately be able to just put this on, having it be harder for him, having the posturing be challenging for him, having him realize he has to think about this. We have him slip out of it when Armand says, "The Pimpernel," and for a second Percy thinks, "Oh damn, I forgot my disguise." Then he goes back into it. Also too, we're heightening what is under that veil of disguise with Marguerite, which is pain. It's painful. It's not fun to live with him. We tried to make that scene much more Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and much less slapstick. There are varying degrees of whether or not people think it works, but I think it gives you much more of a sense of what life in the Blakeney house has become like with these two people who never consummated their marriage and, consequently are always making nasty jokes to each other.

NR: OK, let's get away from Pimpernel for a moment. Tell me about your song writing.

RB: (laughs)

NR: How long have you been doing that?

RB: (laughing) Not very long.

NR: Really?

RB: No, not long at all actually. The song writing came about when I was doing my CD, Everyman, and my producer, David Chase, who's a good friend of mine and a wonderful song writer...he's written songs for Baywatch and material for Eric Carmen and a number of good performers. He was so busy with my record and I told him that I wanted to do at least one original song on the record. I wanted it to be a pop song instead of all theater stuff. He said, "Great. I'll work on it." but his muse wasn't coming. I'd call him every week and say, "Any ideas for the song?" He would say, "Well, I'm getting feelings for it but nothing's really coming." I started to think, "Oh no, we're recording in a month and you don't have anything written." I started to get really nervous. I started to think, "What would I like to be on the record?" Then I started writing some ideas down. Most people I've talked to about it - song writing is like this. You really don't know where they come from. Something just happens. You become like you're taking dictation. "For Everyman" was the first song I wrote for the record. I wrote it in about six hours. I got the idea and boom - it was just there. I called him and I don't play any instruments. I called him up and I said, "It sounds like this" and I sang it. He said, "Wow! That's a good song!" I said, "Really?" So, we started working on that. Literally, the next day, I wrote "When the Lights Go Out." That one just came to me in a flash. I wrote the third one that we included on the record, "Tell it to the Wind" in an hour. I wrote it in the shower. I got in the shower, got an idea, and got out and wrote something on a piece of paper. Then I got back in the shower, jumped out again and wrote something else. It was before a matinee of Sunset Boulevard. By the time I finished the shower, I called David and said, "What about this?" I sang it to him and he said, "Man, you've got another one."

NR: Do you want to keep doing that?

RB: Yeah, I have kept doing it actually. I want to get my next CD going. My next record we'll include at least seven original songs that I've done. I've written nine. There are seven of them that I want to record.

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Interview conducted and photographs by Nancy Rosati.

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