Andrew Lloyd Webber Preparing a Reading for his New Musical on the 1960's Profumo Affair; Alexander Hanson to Star
By Mark Shenton
Andrew Lloyd Webber is moving forward with his new musical about the true 1960s story of Stephen Ward, a London osteopath who had introduced Christine Keeler, the reputed mistress of an alleged Russian spy, to John Profumo, the UK's minister of State for War, who was forced to resign in the process. Ward was himself charged with living off the profits of prostitution after the case.
According to a report in the UK's Daily Mail, Lloyd Weber will gather a group of actors around a piano at the end of the month to try out the score, on which he has been reunited with lyricist Don Black and playwright Christopher Hampton, with whom he previously created Sunset Boulevard.
Alexander Hanson, who appeared as Frederick Egerman in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of A Little Night Music and subsequently reprised that role in the West End and on Broadway, will portray Ward, with Hal Fowler as Profumo. They are joined by Iris Roberts, currently appearing in The Captain of Kopenick at the National and soon to appear in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as Christine Keeler, and Carly Bawden (recently seen as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at Sheffield's Crucible) as Mandy Rice Davies.
But Lloyd Webber states that "it's highly unlikely they will be in the completed show because they’re all booked up to do other things. All we’re doing is putting a bunch of people, who are good sight-readers, around a piano to see what works."
The show will be produced by Robert Fox and directed by Richard Eyre. About Fox's involvement, Lloyd Webber commented that he wanted to have someone who would be able to tell him, "Look, Lloyd Webber, this is a load of absolute rubbish! I need to know whether the second act works as a musical, and I need people who will tell me."
In a previous radio interview last year on BBC Radio 2 with Chris Evans, he also commented on the subject of the musical: "Stephen Ward really intrigues me and was a fantastically interesting character." Lloyd Webber went on to describe him as "the most popular man in London who ended up with absolutely nobody after the trial. I kind of think he was a fall guy. A very interesting guy."
This is not be the first time the story had been musicalized. In 2007 A Model Girl, a musical on the same subject, was staged at the Greenwich Theatre and starred Emma Williams as Keeler. More recently, a play entitled Keeler toured regionally that was scripted by Gill Adams and starred Paul Nicholas as Stephen Ward and Alice Coulthard as Christine.
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