Undeterred by rumours of epic running times during previews (See News, 14 Apr 2008), an eclectic mix of stars – from the worlds of stage, screen, music and sport – turned out at the West End’s New London theatre on last night (22 April 2008, previews from 5 April) for the world premiere of Trevor Nunn’s musical adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic Gone with the Wind (See Also Today’s WOS TV).

Set in Georgia in the 1860s, Gone with the Wind follows Scarlett O’Hara’s journey from a life of luxury on her father’s plantation through the Civil War and the hardships it heaps on her and her family to the rocky post-war peace, with her love for Ashley Wilkes and the renegade Rhett Butler adding fuel to the fire.

One of the best-selling novels of the 20th century (the only book that's sold more, apparently is The Bible), Gone with the Wind was made into one of Hollywood’s highest-grossing films in 1939, a winner of ten Oscars. It starred Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, whose final line – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” – has gone down in cinematic history.

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Broadway star Jill Paice and former Pop Idol contestant Darius Danesh step into Leigh and Gable’s shoes as Scarlett and Rhett in the new stage version, which also features Edward Baker-Duly (as Ashley Wilkes), Madeleine Worrall (Melanie) and Jina Burrows (Prissy). Others in the company include Susannah Fellows, Emily Bryant, Gareth Chart, Laura Checkley, Julian Forsyth, Kirsty Hoiles, Chris Jarman, Tober Reilly, David Roberts, Tom Sellwood, Ray Shell, Savannah Stevenson, Gemma Sutton, Sue Jane Tanner, Susan Tracy and Alan Winner.

In development for more than three years, Gone with the Wind has music and lyrics by Margaret Martin, making her theatrical debut. The premiere production is directed by Nunn and designed by John Napier, who worked with Nunn on blockbuster page-to-stage adaptations of Les Miserables and Cats, the latter finishing its 21-year run at the New London in May 2002. It’s produced by Aldo Scrofani and Colin Ingram.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the arrivals and curtain call at the New London and the post-show party at the Waldorf Hilton. Other first night guests included: Twiggy, Leigh Lawson, Thelma Barlow, Peter Baldwin Michelle Collins, Barbara Windsor, Christopher Biggins, Nicki Chapman, Jan Leeming, Ben Elton, Natasha Henstridge, Daniel Kramer, Samuel Adamson, David Frost, Anthony Andrews, Teddy Kempner, Haydn Gwynne, Andrew Castle, Linzi Stoppard, Brenda Edwards, Paul Keating, Imogen Stubbs, Michelle Heaton, Anneka Rice, David Ian, Johnathan Shallit, Duncan James, Vanessa Feltz, Joan Collins, Arlene Phillips and McFly’s Dougie Poynter, Harry Judd, Danny Jones and Tom Fletcher.

-by Terri Paddock