Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Stephen Ward will receive its world premiere at the Aldwych theatre later this year.
Directed by Richard Eyre, the theatrical impresario’s latest show tells the story of one of the most sensational political scandals of the 20th century, the 1963 Profumo Affair, which saw MP John Profumo resign from his position as Secretary of State for War and damaged the reputation of Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and his government following Profumo’s affair with Christine Keeler, the alleged mistress of a Soviet spy.
Rather than focusing on either of the politicians at the centre of the scandal, Lloyd Webber’s new musical takes its name from the English osteopath who introduced the political pair to Keeler. Targeted as a scapegoat, Ward became a reluctant martyr due to an unholy alliance between the press and the police, acting as the hinge between two worlds and the harbinger of a revolution in manners, music and morals as the ordered and respectable 50s gave way to the classless, unstoppable 60s.
Opening on 19 December with previews from 3 December, Stephen Ward features a book by British playwright Christopher Hampton, whose credits for the stage include Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical Sunset Boulevard, with lyrics by his Sunset Boulevard collaborator Don Black, who has also worked with Lloyd Webber on Tell Me On A Sunday and Aspects Of Love.
Former Director of the National Theatre, Eyre’s recent directing credits include the Rowan Atkinson-led production of Quartermaine’s Terms at the Wyndham’s theatre and The Dark Earth And The Light Sky at the Almeida. The multi-Olivier Award-winning director will also direct his own adaptation of Ghosts at the Islington venue later this year.
Eyre is joined in the creative team by three fellow Olivier Award winners including designer Rob Howell, whose credits include the RSC’s hit production of Matilda The Musical, choreographer Stephen Mear, who was nominated for his third accolade at this year’s Olivier Awards with MasterCard for his work on Kiss Me, Kate, and lighting designer Peter Mumford, whose credits include Bacchai at the National Theatre. They will also be joined by sound designer Paul Groothuis, who gained a 2013 Olivier Award nomination for Jonathan Kent’s production of Sweeney Todd starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.
Stephen Ward will open at the Aldwych theatre following the three-time Olivier Award-winning musical Top Hat, which will end its run on 26 October. Casting for the production is still to be announced.