It was one of the best-selling novels of the 20th century and one of Hollywood’s highest-grossing films ever. Now Gone With the Wind is a major new West End musical (or play with music, depending on your point of view). Trevor Nunn’s much-talked-about adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic received its world premiere last night (22 April 2008, previews from 5 April) at the West End’s New London theatre (See Also Today’s 1st Night Photos).

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.

The roles of Scarlett and Rhett were immortalised in the 1939 Oscar-winning film by Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, whose final line – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” – has gone down in cinematic history. Broadway star Jill Paice and former Pop Idol contestant Darius Danesh step into Leigh and Gable’s shoes in the new stage version.

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For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand for arrivals and the curtain call of Gone With the Wind at the New London Theatre and the post-show party at the Waldorf Hilton. Amongst our TV interviewees are Jill Paice and Darius Danesh, co-stars Edward Baker-Duly and Natasha Yvette Williams, debut composer/lyricist Margaret Martin and producer Aldo Scrofani as well as first night guests including Joan Collins, Ben Elton, Thelma Barlow, Peter Baldwin and Anthony Andrews.

In addition to Paice and Danesh, the Gone With the Wind cast 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.

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.

- by Terri Paddock