In a statement sent to those who had booked seats for the production, Aidan O'Rourke, head of the box office, wrote: "I am sorry to let you know that we have decided not to produce The Count of Monte Cristo this winter. We have decided to give the project some more development time, and hope to put it on in future years. We are presently deciding what to produce in its place."
Based on the classic tale by Alexndre Dumas, it was being adapted by Richard Bean (One Man Two Guvnors) and was to have marked the NT directorial debut of Timothy Sheader, artistic director of the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, where he recently directed Ragtime. He is re-staging his Regent's Park production of Into the Woods at Central Park's Delacorte Theater this summer.
In the show, which was being billed as suitable for age 10 and above, Edmond Dantes – illiterate young sailor of Marseilles – is drawn into conspiring with the exiled Napoleon and imprisoned for ten years. Incarcerated in a desolate gaol with no-one but a mad monk for company, Dantes begins an unconventional education. As his enemies become more powerful, all hope of justice and of a reunion with his sweetheart appears to be gone. Still, Dantes clings to hope. Eventually, his chance comes: he escapes his prison, adopts a disguise and the Count of Monte Cristo is born.