Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind

A musical based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, book, music and lyrics by Margaret Martin, adapted by Trevor Nunn

Scarlett O’Hara – Jill Paice
Rhett Butler – Darius Danesh
Ashley Wilkes – Edward Baker-Duly
Melanie Hamilton – Madeleine Worrall
Mammy – NaTasha Yvette Williams
Prissy – Jina Burrows
Gerald O’Hara/ Scallawag – Julian Forsyth
Ellen O’Hara / Mrs Elsing – Susannah Fellows
Pork – Ray Shell
Dilcey – Jacqueline Boatswain
Uncle Peter/ Toby – Leon Herbert
Big Sam / Twelve Oaks Servant – Chris Jarman
Mrs Merriweather / Georgia Lady – Susan Tracy
Dr Meade / John Wilkes / Yankee Cavalryman – Jeff Shankley
Mrs Meade / Georgia Lady – Kathryn Akin
Aunt Pittypat / Georgia Lady – Susan Jane Tanner
Frank Kennedy / Scallawag / Confederate Soldier – Alan Vicary
Charles Hamilton / Hugh Elsing – David Roberts
Cade Calvert / Darcy Meade / Union Captain – Alan Winner
Stuart Tarleton / Union Soldier – Gareth Chart
Brent Tarleton / Union Soldier – Tom Sellwood
Suellen O’Hara / Sara Parkin / Scallawag / Widow – Emily Bryant
Careen O’Hara / Jane Hall / Scallawag / Widow – Gemma Sutton
India Wilkes / Auction Girl – Kirsty Hoiles
Dimity Munro / Maybelle Merriweather / Mrs Carahan / Widow – Laura Checkley
Honey / Jennifer Sounder / Emmie Slattery / Mrs Flaherty / Widow – Lorraine Chappell
Catherine / Fanny Elsing – Savannah Stevenson
Cookie / Twelve Oaks Servant – Jenessa Qua
Jonas Wilkerson / René Picard – Tober Reilly
Will Benteen / Paul Wilson / Willy Guinan / Telegraph Man – Ian Conningham
Tony Fontaine / Cafry Ashburn / Captain Jaffery / Mr Flaherty – Derek Hagan
Prophet / Union Soldier / Twelve Oaks Servant. – Horace Oliver
Rosa / Twelve Oaks Servant – Rosalind James

Further cast: Chloe-Jean Bishop, Nolan Frederick, Christopher Ragland, Gene Goodman, Mischa Goodman, Mia Jenkins, Grace Poutney, Annabel Smith & Guy Whitby

The Orchestra
David White – Musical Director
Andy Massey – Assistant Musical Director, Keyboard & Accordion
Richard George – Violin
Tony Woollard – Cello
Ed Morris – Double bass
Tony Robb – Flute, Alto Flute & Piccolo
Kate Andrews – Oboe & Cor anglais
Tim Holmes – Clarinet, Bass clarinet & Flute
Duncan Fuller – Horn
Simon Gardner – Trumpet, Flugelhorn & Cornet
Ed Tarrant – Trombone & Euphonium
Dan Thomas – Guitar, Mandolin & Banjo
Hugh Webb – HarpPhil Hopkins – Percussion & Harmonica

Trevor Nunn – Director
John Napier – Designer
Andreane Neofitou – Costume Designer
Neil Austin – Lighting Designer
Paul Groothuis – Sound Designer
David Bolger – Movement Director
Stephen Rayne – Resident Director
William David Brohn – Orchestrations
Gareth Valentine – Musical Supervision & Arrangements

Reviewed by: Michael Darvell

Reviewed: 28 April, 2008
Venue: New London Theatre, London

Gone With The WindThere has already been at least one other musical version of Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel “Gone with the Wind”. Then called “Scarlett”, it was premiered in Tokyo in the early 1970s with music by American composer Harold Rome and Japanese writer Kazuo Kikuta. It ran for four hours (even longer than the 1939 film). However, when translated for London, the Drury Lane version was rewritten with a new book, trimmed by an hour-and-a-half and renamed “Gone with the Wind”. June Ritchie played Scarlett O’Hara; Harve Presnell was Rhett Butler. Plans were made to transfer it to Broadway in 1974. Meanwhile a Revised Version played Los Angeles and San Francisco but eventually the New York opening was cancelled. There seemed to be no way the show could be presented that would satisfactorily tell the whole story of one woman’s tempestuous life set against the backdrop of the American Civil War.

History repeats itself in this new version, which is virtually the work of one woman, Margaret Martin, who wrote the book, the music and the lyrics. Trevor Nunn, who has already directed stage versions of Dickens’s “Nicholas Nickleby” and Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables”, has adapted Martin’s material into a three-and-a-half hour musical. Even at that length the piece is very sketchy and barely does the subject justice. The New London Theatre has been decked out by designer John Napier as an American southern state plantation complete with picket fencing around the dress circle and a gantry for the players to narrate the parts of the story that the actors cannot reach. It’s a long slog and after three hours enough is really enough – that last half-hour is something of a trial. By then all the major events have happened: General Robert E. Lee has been defeated at Gettysburg, Atlanta has fallen, Abraham Lincoln has been re-elected President, the southern slaves have been emancipated – but the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a headstrong southern girl of Irish extraction, carries on with assorted births, deaths and marriages at every opportune moment.

What holds things up are the songs; without those the show could probably be about a hundred minutes shorter. It’s not as if they contribute very much to explaining what is going on or that they are particularly good numbers. For the most part the lyrics are banal and merely the equivalent of spoken dialogue set to music. The bathetic nadir is reached in the doggerel couplet: “I’m the queen of the county / The belle of the ball, / but like Humpty Dumpty / I had a great fall.” The best of the songs are those delivered by the chorus who work very hard in such numbers as ‘She’s no lady’ and ‘The very best people’, sung by the various ladies of the community who find Miss O’Hara and her wilful behaviour more than somewhat tiresome. The chorus of black slaves is also very good and ‘Wings of a dove’ turns out to be quite a moving anthem for the freed workers. The duets between Rhett and Scarlett go for very little even though both leads try to overcome the triteness of the lyrics, including the show’s title song.

Jill Paice’s Scarlett is a well-rounded characterisation although far too much happens to the girl in too short a time. Darius Danesh’s Rhett seems more like John Wayne than Clark Gable and he has a curiously unmelodious voice, but he looks the part of the dashing, dark-haired, moustachioed Captain, as does Edward Baker-Duly (in the Leslie Howard role) as the weak-willed, floppy blond-haired Ashley Wilkes. Best of all is NaTasha Yvette Williams as Mammy, the O’Hara family’s black servant who does a very passable impersonation of Hattie McDaniel. As Prissy (“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’, Miss Scarlett”), Jina Burrows replicates Butterfly McQueen’s film performance, but curiously has a change of heart when she is given a song (‘I’m gonna find my own’) that could well have come from “Sweet Charity” with its “there’s gotta be something better than this” sentiments.

A hard-working cast keeps the show rolling on and there are some impressive set-pieces such as the burning of Atlanta. However, most of the audience seem merely polite until the familiar lines come plonking out; you know, Scarlett announcing that “As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again” and “After all, tomorrow is another day” while Rhett’s dismissal of Scarlett with his “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” gets the biggest round of applause. The question is will audiences give enough of a damn to keep the show going until September or will it have gone with the wind well before then?

  • Gone with the Wind is booking until September 2008
  • Tickets on 0844 412 4654

  • Gone with the Wind

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