Andrew Lloyd Webber Hopes to Premiere New Stephen Ward Musical in West End Before End of the Year
By Mark Shenton
Andrew Lloyd Webber hopes to bring his latest musical, Stephen Ward, to the West End before the end of the year.
According to a report in the UK's Daily Mail, the plan is to begin rehearsals in October prior to beginning previews in late November. But it is subject to theatre availability, and an executive involved in the production is quoted saying, "That's dependent on the right theatre being available. As of this moment, there isn't a signed theatre. But there is a theatre in sight."
If a theatre doesn't become available, the schedule will be put back to late spring 2014 or early summer 2014.
A run-through of the complete show, co-written with Christopher Hampton and Don Black and to be directed by Richard Eyre, will be staged at Lloyd Webber's private Sydmnton Festival this summer.
The show is based on the true 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.
A previous reading of the show featured 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, as Ward, with Hal Fowler as Profumo. They were joined by Iris Roberts, recently seen 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.
In a previous radio interview last year on BBC Radio 2 with Chris Evans, Lloyd Webber 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 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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