- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2008

Tears at Tara

The curtains are coming down at Tara again, this time in London.

The musical version of “Gone With the Wind” will close June 14, making it one of the biggest flops in the history of London’s West End theater district. The show was to run at least until Sept. 27, but producers are cutting their losses after poor ticket sales, several newspapers reported.

The show’s producer, Aldo Scrofani, said in a statement quoted Sunday by the Observer newspaper: “Despite the critical response, the company have enjoyed much praise from audience members during our run, and for that we are grateful. Nevertheless, we have made the difficult decision to close the production.”

It never recovered from a critical mauling, and even a cut in its running time from more than four hours to around three failed to save it. In April, Nicholas de Jongh wrote in the Evening Standard: “Connoisseurs of big, bad musicals must rush to catch Gone With the Wind in case it’s quickly blown away on gales of ridicule.”

Featuring a former reality TV contestant Darius Danesh as Rhett Butler and Jill Paice as Scarlett O’Hara, the $8 million show opened April 22 at the New London Theatre amid great fanfare.

Plans for a New York opening are on hold.

Forty years ago

Arriving in Prague for the city’s 18th writers festival, American novelist Paul Auster told Agence France-Presse on his arrival for the five-day festival: “There are so many parallels between what happened [in 1968] and today.”

The 61-year-old writer said, “I am the same, I think the same, I very much want justice and fairness in the sense that people are living together rather than in a society where every man is for himself.” Forty years ago, he was at Columbia University, taking part in massive student demonstrations.

The other writers who will discuss what 1968 meant to them include Ivan Klima, who headed an important literary review during the short-lived Prague Spring, and Natalia Gorbanevskaya, who protested in Moscow’s Red Square on Aug. 25 that year against the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring - after which she was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Butterfly Ball

It was deja-vu Saturday for actor Charlie Sheen and real estate developer Brooke Mueller as the newlyweds stepped onto the purple carpet at the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball, returning to where they met in 2006. The couple, married on Friday, created quite a stir among photographers and reporters.

Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and lots of other celebrities spread their wings at the fundraiser, which benefits Chrysalis, a Los Angeles organization that helps homeless men and women find jobs and homes.

“We love it, and we really believe in it,” Miss Moore said before the event, according to Associated Press.

Compiled from Web and wire reports.

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