Though we supported the French Revolution, perhaps the Reign of Terror didn't have to cut off absolutely every one of those aristocrats' heads. The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Percy Blakeney, achieved Spider-Man-like acclaim by helping many of the endangered nobility sneak out of France -- a less bloody compromise. Blakeney concealed his identity by pretending to be even more of a useless limey dweeb than he was already (which put a great strain on his marriage, but that's what heroes do).
Baroness Emmuska Orczy's play and novels about Blakeney were the early 20th century's equivalent of a great beach read. The 1997 musical theater version, scored by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde), buckles its swash all over the stage at Paradise Valley Community College.
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