Douglas Sills as Percy
SP1, SP2 and SP4

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The Scarlet Pimpernel : Broadway's Most Intriguing Musical.

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The Adventure Story

He meddles with the Frenchie Revolution,
Popping in and out each week,
Spoiling ev'ry lovely execution -
La, what cheek!

Beyond the historical and literary sparks The Scarlet Pimpernel may strike, don't forget that the Baroness Orczy's story is a swashbuckling, exciting, fun adventure story. Ever since we have been telling stories, we have been telling breathless stories of high adventure. The story of Baroness Orczy's "reckless daredevil" leaves us breathless and happy. Why?

Why do we love adventure stories?

Why is an adventure story exciting? It sounds like a silly question ("because it's an adventure story, that's why!"), but by analyzing what makes a story exciting we can see how an author, or the creator of a musical, makes us hold our breath in anticipation. Think about these scenes in The Scarlet Pimpernel:

The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel saving
the intended victims of the guillotine.

Lord Grenville's Ball

The final scene

What happens in these scenes to make them thrilling? How does the writer manipulate the action in the scene to make it even more hair-raising? With what you've learned by analyzing these scenes, write your own adventure scene in story or skit form.

What are the difficulties of writing an adventure story? Compare The Scarlet Pimpernel to other famous adventure stories such as The Three Musketeers (Bantam Books, NY, 1984) or The Count of Monte-Cristo (Oxford University Press, NY, 1990) by Alexander Dumas (1802-1870), The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope (Buccaneer Books, NY, 1982) or the legend of Robin Hood. What is it about these heroes that make them so attractive?

Compare The Scarlet Pimpernel to the "action heroes" of today. How have our ideas about adventure stories changed since the Baroness Orczy created Sir Percy Blakeney?


The oldest, most widespread stories in the world are adventure stories, about human heroes who venture into the myth countries and bring back tales of the world beyond men. These tales bind together the fragile island of human needs and relationships by affirming the possibility that mere men can survive the storms of the demonic world.
- from The Adventurer by Paul Zweig
(Basic Books, Inc., NY, 1974)

Into the Fire!

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