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Headline-hitting 60s’ scandal gets the Andrew Lloyd Webber treatment in a new musical about the society osteopath who introduced a showgirl to the rich, the famous and a Russian spy.

The title of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest show is hardly memorable, but after over four decades in the business, the composer of Cats and Evita hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to writing catchy melodies. With book and lyrics provided by Christopher Hampton and Don Black (his collaborators on Sunset Boulevard) he comes to the defence of the eponymous society osteopath who was responsible for bringing together a show girl, a politician and a possible Russian spy in the 1960’s.

The publicity surrounding the various liaisons that ensued did the Conservative government of the time no favours, but it was the hedonistic Ward, with his penchant for the company of the rich and famous - and of pretty young girls, whatever their background – who, it seems, ended up the sacrificial lamb on a trumped up charge of living off immoral earnings.

Told in flashback (from a grimly realised beginning in Blackpool’s Chamber of Horrors), Richard Eyre’s efficient production charts Ward’s (apparently platonic) relationship with Charlotte Spencer’s Christine Keeler, the free-spirited teenager whom he first spotted in a Soho nightclub, subsequently moved into his Wimpole Mews flat along with Mandy Rice-Davies, and introduced to the pleasure-loving toffs at Lord Astor’s Cliveden estate.

Alexander Hanson is a smooth, strongly-sung and rather enigmatic Ward as he narrates his own story, and Joanna Riding makes an impact in a brief appearance as the loyal wife of cheating Secretary of State for War, John Profumo. And although it’s a story that’s been told before, fifty years down the track this musical treatment of a Cold War scandal still intrigues - not so much, perhaps, for its depiction of sexual shenanigans (though “You’ve Never Had it So Good” provides the excuse for some lively partying), as for the refusal of Ward’s influential contacts to stand by him when it really counted. 

When: Until March 1, 2014

Where: Aldwych Theatre, Aldywch, WC2B 4DF

Price: Tickets start at £15. To book, click here.


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Theatre: Stephen Ward the Musical
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