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Stephen Ward - the new Lloyd Webber musical

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

RICHARD Eyre will direct the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical, Stephen Ward, which opens at the Aldwych Theatre on December 19, 2013, following preview performances from December 3.

Stephen Ward has book and lyrics by playwright Christopher Hampton and lyricist Don Black with whom Lloyd Webber previously collaborated on the multi Tony award-winning Sunset Boulevard.

In 1963, it was a scandal that shocked society. Stephen Ward deals with the victim of the Profumo Affair – not, as is widely supposed, John Profumo himself, the disgraced Minister for War, nor even the fatally wounded Conservative government of Harold Macmillan, but the society osteopath whose private libertarian experiments blew up in his own and everyone else’s face.

In a trial as emblematic to the twentieth century as Oscar Wilde’s was to the nineteenth – from which he was the only protagonist to emerge with some dignity and honour – Ward became the targeted scapegoat of a furiously self-righteous Establishment.

By no means a hero, he was a reluctant martyr, thanks to an unholy alliance between press and police of a kind we can all too readily recognise today; inadvertently, he was the hinge between two worlds and the harbinger of a revolution in manners, music and morals when the ordered, stuffy, respectful universe of the fifties gave way to the classless, truculent, unstoppable sixties.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of The Likes of Us, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, By Jeeves, Evita, Variations and Tell Me On A Sunday later combined as Song & Dance, Cats, Starlight Express, The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard, Whistle Down the Wind, The Beautiful Game (now called The Boys in the Photograph), The Woman in White and Love Never Dies.

He also composed the film scores of Gumshoe and The Odessa File and a setting of the Latin Requiem mass; plus he pioneered television casting for musical theatre with the Emmy Award-winning BBC series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? As well as being knighted in 1992 and created an honorary life peer in 1997, Lloyd Webber has been the recipient of multiple awards both nationally and internationally.

Don Black has worked extensively in the theatre and film industry. He has previously collaborated with Lloyd Webber on Tell Me On A Sunday, Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard, the latter also with Christopher Hampton. His other theatre credits include Billy, Bar Mitzvah Boy, Bombay Dreams, Dracula the Musical and Bonnie and Clyde. Black has also contributed songs to many films including Born Free, The Italian Job, Dances With Wolves, Out of Africa, True Grit, To Sir, With Love and five James Bond films.

As well as Lloyd Webber, he has previously collaborated with John Barry, Quincy Jones, Jule Styne, Henry Mancini, Michael Jackson, Michel Legrand and Marvin Hamlish amongst others. His work has received numerous awards internationally, in 2007 he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and in 1999 he was awarded the OBE.

Christopher Hampton has written extensively for stage, television and film. With Don Black he wrote the book and lyrics for Sunset Boulevard and Dracula the Musical. His plays include When Did You Last See My Mother?, Tales from Hollywood, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Philanthropist, White Chameleon, The Talking Cure and Appomattox, which received its world premiere last year at the Guthrie Theatre.

Hampton was Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre where he also worked as the company’s Literary Manager. He has translated plays by Ibsen, Molière, von Horváth, Chekhov and Yasmina Reza. He wrote the libretto for the opera Appomattox, composed by Philip Glass. His work as a screenwriter includes Carrington, The Honorary Consul, Dangerous Liaisons, Total Eclipse, The Quiet American, Mary Reilly, Atonement and A Dangerous Method.

Hampton is the winner of numerous awards worldwide for his work in both film and theatre, and in 1999 he was made a CBE.

Richard Eyre was Director of the National Theatre from 1988 – 1997. Since then, he has directed The Crucible (Broadway), Mary Poppins and Private Lives (West End and Broadway), Quartermaine’s Terms (West End) and The Pajama Game (Chichester Festival Theatre). Later this year, Eyre will direct his own adaptation of Ghosts for the Almeida Theatre where he last directed The Dark Earth and the Light Sky.

On television, his credits include Changing Stages, the BAFTA award-winning Tumbledown and Henry IV Parts 1 and II for the BBC’s 2012 Shakespeare Season. His film credits include Iris, Stage Beauty and Notes on a Scandal. As well as being awarded many times for his film and theatre work, Eyre was knighted in 1997.

Produced by Robert Fox Limited and the Really Useful Group, Stephen Ward will have set design by Rob Howell, choreography by Stephen Mear, lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by Paul Groothuis. Casting will be announced in due course.

Stephen Ward is currently booking at the Aldwych Theatre until March 1, 2014.

Tickets: Previews (until December 18, 2013) £15 – £57.50; then £15 – £67.50. Tickets are available from the box office on 0844 847 2379 or online at www.stephenwardthemusical.com/.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

Top Hat continues at the Aldwych Theatre until October 26, 2013.