A week ahead of its scheduled press night, Gone with the Wind has cancelled tomorrow night’s preview performance (Tuesday 15 April 2008) as the creative team work to shorten the epic show’s running time.

Trevor Nunn’s musical adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel started previews at the West End’s New London theatre on 5 April 2008, ahead of its world premiere next Tuesday, 22 April 2008. One preview, originally scheduled for 4 April, was cancelled after Natasha Yvette Williams, the actress who plays Scarlett’s maid Mammy, sprained her foot. The injury also meant normal technical rehearsals were curtailed.

At the start of previews, the show was reportedly running at over four hours, which had been cut down to three hours and 45 minutes as of late last week. Producers are aiming to bring it in at the three-hour mark. The cancellation of tomorrow evening’s performance will allow the company more technical time on stage to introduce new set elements and rehearse in proposed cuts.

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. Jill Paice and Darius Danesh star as Scarlett and Rhett (picture).

In development for more than three years, Gone with the Wind has music and lyrics by Margaret Martin. 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.

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, a winner of ten Oscars. It starred Leigh and Gable, whose final line – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” – has gone down in cinematic history.

In addition to Paice, Danesh and Williams (See News, 21 Dec 2007), the cast of the new stage version also features Edward Baker-Duly (as Ashley Wilkes), Madeleine Worrall (Melanie) and Jina Burrows (Prissy). Others in the company include 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.

Customers who booked for tomorrow’s performance are being offered ticket exchanges or refunds. Amongst those affected are 250 theatregoers on our Whatsonstage.com Outing, which has been sold out for months. We will be contacting all Outing attendees today with alternative arrangements. If you have booked for the Outing, you can contact Kate Jackson on kate@whatsonstage.com or 020 7907 7020.

- by Terri Paddock