TCM’s originally produced documentary, Gone With The Wind: The Making of the Musical details the hard work and dedication that has made it possible for this epic American Civil War story to be adapted for the stage. With unprecedented access to the production’s cast and crew it has been possible to document the exciting build up to the show’s momentous premiere in London’s West End at the New London Theatre in Drury Lane on Tuesday 22nd April and to enjoy a fascinating and intimate insight from the creative forces behind the new production.
Fans of the book and film will be able to watch the musical emerge from script stage to curtain up in Gone With The Wind: The Making of the Musical. Every aspect of the musical’s production will be under scrutiny from the moment that designer John Napier unveils the model of the set to its eventual construction. We’ll see the actors and actresses being measured for their stunning costumes and hear them taking the first tentative steps as these iconic characters throughout rehearsals. As well as the on-stage activity in development, viewers are treated to all aspects of commercial and technical planning that is involved in creating such a mammoth West End production. Fly-on-the-wall footage from Marketing Meetings, orchestra rehearsals and come under the spotlight
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Acclaimed theatre director, Trevor Nunn, tells of how he received a script for the musical version of this legendary film in the post, completely out of the blue, along with a CD sample of four songs. Having read the script and listened to the songs he was in no doubt whatsoever that he would happily put his name to such an ambitious project alongside experienced Broadway producers, Aldo Scrofani and Gary McAvay as well as British theatre producer, Colin Ingram. Nunn is reunited with designer John Napier and with Gareth Valentine as musical supervisor and Andreane Neofitou as costume designer, this constitutes one of the most impressive creative teams currently working in musical theatre.
The woman behind the script is an American called Margaret Martin. This sociologist, with a background in scientific studies, had always harbored a passion for the fascinating story told by Margaret Mitchell in the best-selling book written in 1936. Determined to purchase the rights, Martin set about the task driven by an unwavering desire to see her dream realized. Once in possession of the rights she took three years to develop her script and write the musical score. On 4th April at The New Theatre in Drury Lane public and critics alike will decide whether she has achieved her ultimate goal.
Gathered together in the Jerwood Space close to the south bank of the Thames, the cast and crew of the brand new musical version of Gone With The Wind talk exclusively to TCM about the ambitious project they are undertaking. The international cast has been selected after gruelling rounds of auditions but director, Trevor Nunn, is adamant that his stage production will not imitate the film but deliver its own unique take on this fascinating story.
Darius Danesh and Jill Paice take the leads as Rhett and Scarlett and both admit that they have an awful lot to live up to if they are to stamp their own personalities on the characters made famous by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.
Darius Danesh is Rhett Butler
Danesh is best known to UK television audiences following his participation in the talent contest Pop Idol in 2001. He ended up in the final three to be beaten to top spot by Will Young but has since established himself as a singer-songwriter and has enjoyed five number one UK singles as well as a platinum-selling album. In addition, appearances in West End stage versions of Chicago and Guys and Dolls whetted his appetite for musical theatre and Darius has recently spent time in Los Angeles where he has been honing his acting skills.
Jill Paice is Scarlett O’Hara
American, Jill Paice, is no stranger to the London stage. She’s successfully transferred from Broadway to the West End as Laura in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White and has clearly established herself as a firm favourite of director Trevor Nunn, who was at the helm for Wilkie Collins’ Victorian thriller. Jill feels quite at home on the London stage and has established herself as a favourite with musical theatre lovers on both sides of the Atlantic. She has left a successful Broadway production of Curtains starring alongside David Hyde Pierce to begin rehearsals in London.
Edward Baker-Duly is Ashley Wilkes
Born in South Africa, Baker-Duly has become familiar to UK television audiences with roles in Emmerdale, Grange Hill and, more recently, Doctors. However, his background is firmly rooted in musical theatre both in his native South Africa and throughout the UK. Previous roles have included working alongside Trevor Nunn in The National Theatre’s South Pacific, the lead role in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Riff in West Side Story and a revealing performance in The Full Monty!
Madeleine Worrall is Melanie
This versatile Scottish stage and screen actress has enjoyed theatre roles ranging from an appearance as Cinderella in Stephen Fry’s legendary Old Vic pantomime to starring opposite Sheila Hancock in Bill MacIlwraith’s acidic black comedy, The Anniversary. Television audiences will have enjoyed her performances in Heartbeat, Judge John Deed, Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders.
Gone With The Wind: The story
When, in the 1930s, Margaret ‘Peggy’ Mitchell was encouraged to write a novel during a period of convalescence little did she know that her story would go on to become one of the best-selling books in the history of literature. A Pulitzer prize followed and then a Hollywood screen version of her turbulent tale of love, loss and determination all set against the backdrop of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Almost 70 years after the film captured the imagination of audiences around the world, and notched up the most impressive Oscar scoop of its time, the story is being revived, this time in a musical version which is set to premiere on the London stage this month.
The rich history of late 19th century US struggle provides a fascinating and complex story for a musical. Military overtones guarantee an exciting visual feast whilst the fashions and costumes of the day inject glamour and spectacle. Against the backdrop of this universal story there’s the very personal perspective as the characters run the gamut of emotions. The opulence of luxury to the wretchedness of poverty from the ecstasy of love to pure hatred and from peace to war is examined and celebrated in this production.
Photo 1: Title ©TCM
Photo 2: Actors Darius Danesh (R) and Jill Paice pose together to celebrate St. Valentine's Day at Jerwood Space on February 13, 2007 in London, England.© Dave Hogan/Getty Images
Photo 3: Darius Danesh IS Rhett Butler ©Jo Hale/Getty Images
Photo 4: (L-R) actors Jill Paice, Darius Danesh and girlfriend actress Natasha Henstridge arrive at The Laurence Olivier Awards at Grosvenor House on March 9, 2008 in London. ©Jo Hale/Getty Images