Just five weeks after its opening night, following cancelled previews and largely damning reviews (See Review Round-up, 23 Apr 2008), director Trevor Nunn’s epic adaptation of Gone With the Wind has posted closing notices at the West End’s New London Theatre. Billed as “a play with music”, the world premiere production opened on 22 April 2008 (previews from 5 April) and had been initially booking until 27 September. It will now finish on 14 June after just 79 performances.

At the start of previews, the show’s performance was running at more than four hours. This was cut down to three hours and 35 minutes by the press night. More substantial cuts were made - reducing the running time to just over three hours - after critical judgement was passed, but by then the tide was too difficult to turn.

Producer Aldo Scrofani said: “From the beginning of our journey we have all worked hard to achieve the realisation of putting Margaret Mitchell’s classic novel, Gone With the Wind, on stage at the New London Theatre. Despite the critical response, the company have enjoyed much praise from audience members during our run and for that we are grateful, nevertheless we have made the difficult decision to close the production. Plans for a New York production are currently on hold, but in the meantime we are pursuing various options that have been presented to us from interested parties worldwide.”

Set in Georgia in the 1860s, Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1936 novel 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.

Gone With the Wind stars Broadway’s Jill Paice – who fell ill after the press performance (See News, 24 Apr 2008) - and former Pop idol contestant Darius Danesh as Scarlett and Rhett, with Edward Baker-Duly (as Ashley Wilkes), Madeleine Worrall (Melanie), Natasha Yvette Williams (Mammy) and Jina Burrows (Prissy).

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 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 Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, whose final line – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” – has gone down in cinematic history.

Ticket holders for performances after 14 June 2008 should contact the original point of sale for full refunds. No further productions have yet been announced for the New London.

- by Terri Paddock