A new musical version of “Gone with the Wind” opened late last month at the New London Theatre in England, and it could be bound for Broadway in the future. The musical was written by Margaret Martin, a Los Angeles-based writer with a Ph.D. in community health science, and based on the Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Margaret Mitchell.
Few stories have captured the imagination of Americans like “Gone with the Wind.” The 1939 film version of the book starred Vivien Leigh as Scarlett and Clark Gable as Rhett, and smashed box office records at the time and won 10 Academy Awards. Martin presents Mitchell’s heroine of this Civil War epic from a different point of view than the blockbuster film, making a special effort to be truer to Mitchell’s original story. The theatergoer is likely to see this central character as a teenage single mom and admire her strength of character as she plots to save all she loves.
It is not the first time that someone has tried to bring the story to the stage. An earlier musical version called “Scarlett” was launched in 1970 in Tokyo and made it to London in 1972. It was headed for Broadway, but upon reviewing the Los Angeles run, the critics didn’t like it and it closed. That’s the last time anyone tried to present this story of the late 19th century South. According to published reports, reviews of Martin’s musical version were mixed, and it was running close to four hours in previews. It was whittled down to three and a half hours, and producers have promised to cut even more.
Director Trevor Nunn, well-known for his direction of T.S. Eliot and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats, knows first-hand what it is to craft a novel for the stage: he adapted “Nicholas Nickleby” and Les Miserables.