An Interview with Nan Knighton - Bookwriter and lyricist
Nan Knighton is the bookwriter and lyricist for the original musical Snapshots, with music composed by Howard Marren, which received its first reading in October, 1996 at the Manhattan Theatre Club. She has been a contributing bookwriter and lyricist for various Radio City Music Hall productions. She has also written for film, television and the non-musical stage. With Conne Kaiserman, she co-wrote the film My Little Girl, and she wrote the play Happy Birthday, Dear Maggie. She is the bookwriter for the live musical production of Saturday Night Fever, with music and lyrics by The Bee Gees.
How did you become involved with The Scarlet Pimpernel?
In 1989, I was introduced to Frank Wildhorn, who asked me to send him some lyrics, but only lyrics on tape. I just didn't have anything I thought was good enough on tape, so I kind of ignored what he asked, and instead I quickly read The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I'd never read before, and wrote two lyrics for it. I sent them to him, and he loved them, so it turned out it was a good time to take a chance! By October of 1989 I had the job as lyricist for The Scarlet Pimpernel, but by the fall of 1990, we had no bookwriter or director. Frank and I kept working on the score, but year by year, it was looking like the project would never happen. So in the summer of '93, I just sat down and wrote a book for it. I think when I wrote it I was curious to see what would come out, and if I could do it.
What fascinates me about the original story was that Baroness Orczy was the first one to create the idea of the secret identity...
Yeah, she absolutely created the original superhero. There's no question about it- all of those dual-personalities who followed afterwards, from Zorro to Superman were based upon the Scarlet Pimpernel. But the Orczy novel really is Marguerite's story. Not only because it's told from her point of view, but also because it's constantly delving into her emotions, rather than Percy's. In the musical, I wanted to also explore Percy's emotions, which to me are quite complex.
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