Author Tracy Chevalier (pictured, right) was amongst the guests at last night's opening of Girl With a Pearl Earring at the Theatre Royal Haymarket (29 September 2008, previews from 24 September). Adapted from Chevalier's 1999 best-selling novel, the production arrives in the West End following a short premier run at the Cambridge Arts theatre (See News, 22 Jul 2008).

Chevalier’s historical novel was inspired by 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece of the same name. In the fictional story, Vermeer hires the teenage girl Griet to help in his house. But it’s not long before she becomes more than just a servant: she starts to help him in his studio, learning the art of painting by watching the master. And then, secretly, Vermeer begins to paint her, asking her to pose for his most famous portrait.

In the 2003 Hollywood film version, Colin Firth played Vermeer , with Scarlett Johansson starring as Griet. In David Joss Buckley’s stage version, directed by Joe Dowling, the parts are taken by Adrian Dunbar and Kimberley Nixon, who rose to fame last year playing Sophy Hutton in the BBC’s Cranford and starred in the recent film Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. The cast also features Sara Kestelman, Niall Buggy, Lesley Vickerage, Maggie Service, Jonathan Bailey and Flora Spencer-Longhurst.

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PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the post-show drinks at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, along with Kimberley Nixon, Adrian Dunbar and the rest of the company, who were joined by special guest Tracy Chevalier. Girl With a Pearl Earring is currently booking for a limited season until 1 November 2008.

- by Theo Bosanquet