Following a last-minute change of director during rehearsals last month (See News, 11 Aug 2008), the press night for Rain Man has been postponed by ten days. The stage adaptation of the 1988 Oscar-winning film, in which Hollywood screen star Josh Hartnett (pictured) makes his West End debut (See News, 1 Jul 2008), has been previewing since 28 August 2008 and was due to open on 9 September. It will now have its press performance on 19 September and will continue for a limited season to 20 December.

A spokeswoman told Whatsonstage.com that producers have opted for the later opening to allow the new director, Terry Johnson, more time and to give the new play “the best possible start”. Johnson took over after original director David Grindley stepped down.

In a statement, producer Nica Burns said: “We are delighted that the first two previews went well to audiences from as far afield as Australia and Los Angeles. However, we lost a week of rehearsal at the beginning of the process. As it is a new play, we are continuing to refine it as is usual. Therefore the press night date has changed, and the only night available in the very full autumn schedule was Friday 19th”.

In the premiere production, Josh Hartnett is Charlie Babbitt, played on screen by Tom Cruise, with Adam Godley as Raymond, the part for which Dustin Hoffman won a Best Actor Oscar. Raymond is the elder brother Charlie never knew he had, an autistic savant who’s been hidden away in an institution for most of his life. When Raymond is released into Charlie’s care, Charlie harnesses Raymond’s genius to save his business and the brothers embark on a rollercoaster journey beyond the hospital gates.

The full cast of Rain Man also features Colin Stinton and Mary Stockley as Susan, as well as Charles Daish and Tilly Blackwood.

Rain Man is adapted by Dan Gordon and designed by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting by Jason Taylor. It’s produced by Nica Burns, Jane Walmsley, Michael Braham and Max Weitzenhoffer in association with MGM On Stage, Darcie Denker and Dean Stolber. Barry Morrow, the creator of the original film, based the character of Raymond on a real-life savant called Kim Peek, now in his 50s, who’s been the subject of TV documentaries and medical studies. The film won four Academy Awards in total, including Best Picture.

- by Terri Paddock