The Scarlet Pimpernel

RICHARD PARR Dereham Memorial Hall


> Dereham Memorial Hall

They seek him here, they seek him there… the enigmatic Scarlet Pimpernel proved an elusive figure to capture in this musical entertainment on Saturday's opening night.

Dereham Operatic Society was staging the Norfolk premiere of the story turned into musical theatre and they coped well with an ambitious production. The orchestra, under musical director Charlie Caine, provided sensitive and dramatic accompaniment if being, at times, rather too loud.

This is an unfamiliar musical for many people but potential audiences should not be put off because it is a wonderful lavishly-costumed show featuring some excellent voices in the leading roles.

There were some fine solo performances in this tale of Sir Percy Blakeney (the Scarlet Pimpernel) leading a double life as a reckless hero rescuing innocent victims from the guillotine during the French Revolution.

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David Rees lent his fine commanding voice and stage presence to the demanding leading role. He ably brought out the delightful humour of the character as he outfoxed the evil Chauvelin.

Chris Dilley, whom fans will remember in the leading role in Jesus Christ Superstar with the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society, was excellent in the role of the fiendish and arrogant Chauvelin. His fine voice did justice to a number of solo numbers and duets.

In his scenes opposite Julie Hewitt, as lovely Marguerite St Just, the couple built up a sexual chemistry and their duets were a delight. Miss Hewitt gave a stunning portrayal as Sir Percy's wife as she fell under the spell of the menacing Chauvelin.

Sir Percey's six “bounders” added a rich costume and comic thread to the action, particularly in the first act building up to a more powerful, emotionally-charged second act.

Director Greg Fitch deserves congratulations on an accomplished production which further adds to the society's impressive stable of quality musicals.

The Scarlet Pimpernel continues nightly at 7.30pm until Saturday, October 15, when there is also a matinee. Tickets are available from Hallmark, Nelson Place, Dereham on 01362 851919 or by visiting their website at

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