Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christopher Hampton and Don Black, and directed by Richard Eyre, Stephen Ward centres on the title character’s involvement with the young showgirl Christine Keeler that lead to one of the biggest scandals and most famous trials of the 20th century.
On the 50th anniversary, it deals with Ward as the ‘victim’ who was set up as a scapegoat when the scandal put the skids under Macmillan’s government in 1963. The Telegraph’s critic Charles Spencer suggests, “A show that may well play a part in the current campaign to quash the society osteopath’s trumped up conviction for living on immoral earnings.”
Alexander Hanson plays the charming and suave well connected bachelor Stephen Ward. Charlotte Spencer is the glamorous Keeler, and Charlotte Blackledge is her bubbly friend Mandy Rice-Davies.
The London wind and rain kindly subsided to allow the three leads to sign my sketch at the uncovered Aldwych stage door after last night’s performance.
The New York Times in 2001 wrote that Andrew Lloyd Webber is “the most commercially successful composer in history”.
I was quite keen to get him to sign a sketch. His latest musical had its World Premiere at the Aldwych Theatre in London last night (19 December 2013).
Stephen Ward – The Musical charts the rise and fall from grace of the man behind the sixties Profumo scandal. The composer of the megahits Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar takes on a real life story of legal injustice, risky sex and the hypocrisy of the establishment.
Almost on cue, as the Lord arrived, a single lightning flash was followed by a roll of thunder, then the heavens opened with a monsoon proportion downpour (which may account for the roof of the 112 year old Apollo Theatre collapsing moments later).
The Aldwych Theatre occupies the corner of Aldwych and Drury Lane with little cover over the entrance. I was fortunate enough to position myself on the Drury Lane side when the Lord Lloyd-Webber’s vehicle stopped with ten minutes till curtain. I was the first to ask him for his ‘graph. He began it… then the deluge began… so he was escorted quickly to cover. I followed. He was in a hurry, but looked at the sketch and said, “very well done,” and signed it again in his distinctive script, before proceeding in to the comfort and dry of the auditorium.