The much-anticipated world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical inspired by the Profumo Affair, Stephen Ward, will open at the Aldwych Theatre on 19 December 2013 (previews from 3 December).
Directed by former National Theatre artistic director Richard Eyre, the show marks the first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyricist Don Black and playwright Christopher Hampton (who has written the book) since their 1993 musical Sunset Boulevard. Lloyd Webber and Black have also worked together on Tell Me on a Sunday (1980) and Aspects of Love (1989).
The 1963 Profumo Affair, one of the most notorious political scandals of the 20th century, takes its name from the Minister of War John Profumo, who reputedly shared a mistress, Christine Keeler, with a Soviet spy and went on to lie when questioned about it in the House of Commons. The headline-grabbing affair shocked society and rocked the self-righteous Conservative Government of Harold Macmillan, leading ultimately to the resignations of both Profumo and Macmillan and ushering in a new era, as the "stuffy" 1950s gave way to the "Swinging Sixties".
Rather than the more infamous players of Profumo, Keeler or Macmillan, however, the musical takes its name from, the person the press release refers to as the real victim of the affair: Stephen Ward, a libertarian osteopath and artist who introduced Profumo to Keeler at a country house party. He committed suicide on the last day of the court trial.
The Profumo Affair has previously inspired stage versions including Hugh Whitemore's 1997 West End play A Letter of Resignation, starring Edward Fox, and the 2007 fringe musical A Model Girl, starring Emma Williams. Casting for Stephen Ward has yet to be announced .
The premiere production is designed by Rob Howell with choreography by Stephen Mear, lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by Paul Groothuis. Stephen Ward, Lloyd Webber's first new musical since 2010's Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies, is produced by Robert Fox Limited and the Really Useful Group.