Tag Archives: Christopher Hampton

Nr 366: Stephen Ward

18 Feb

Stephen Ward (2013)
, West End, still running
Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics & book: Don Black & Christopher Hampton, based on the Profumo Affair.

The show deals with the victim of the Profumo Affair – not John Profumo himself, the disgraced Minister for War, but the society osteopath by the name of Stephen Ward whose private libertarian experiments blew up in his own and everyone else’s face.
The show centers on his involvement with the young and beautiful Christine Keeler and their chance meeting in a West End night club, which led to one of the biggest political scandals and most famous trials of the 20th century.

There is always a little excitement in the air when it’s time for a new Lloyd Webber musical. Will it be the new Phantom or will it go the same way his latest musicals have gone, that is to say down Flop Avenue?
Well, judging by the reviews things don’t look to good for the lords latest show.
But the music is nice – not terrific, but nice enough. Some good tunes, a lot of 60’s flavor but I get a feeling that I’ve already heard most of it before. I can detect strong influences from shows like Evita, Joseph and Tell Me on a Sunday, some songs even sound a bit like reworked tunes from those shows.
The songs are for the most part in a medium tempo and sound a bit like lounge music and although they are nice to listen to they don’t really engage the listener – or at least not me.
There are no real up tempo songs, the closest we get is a 60’s pop pastiche called Super Duper Hula Hooper.
Of course we get a couple of typical Webber ballads which are good but they sound so ”Webber-y” that they almost become parodies of his style and also, it’s very obvious that he has written them in the hopes to get a new Music of the Night or Think of Me. And although they’re written in the same mold as the  songs mentioned they are in no way in the same league. They’re just (here’s that word again) nice and rather forgettable.
I don’t get a real ”hit” feeling for this album. You’ll find a couple of good songs, some nice ones and the album is enjoyable enough but don’t expect a classic. But at least it doesn’t feel or sound as pretentious as some of his earlier shows and that in itself is a very good thing.

My favorites:
1963, When You Get To Know Me, Manipulation

A little bit of this and a little bit of that:
The Profumo Affair of 1963 was a British political scandal that originated with a brief sexual liaison between John Profumo, the War Minister in Harold Macmillan’s government, and Christine Keeler, a 19-year-old model and dancer.
In March 1963 Profumo denied any impropriety in a personal statement to the House of Commons, but was forced to admit the truth a few weeks later. He resigned from the government and from parliament.
The sensation surrounding the affair was heightened by the revelation that Keeler had seemingly been simultaneously involved with Captain Yevgeny (Eugene) Ivanov, the Russian naval attaché.
Keeler had met both Profumo and Ivanov through her friendship with Stephen Ward, an osteopath and socialite who had taken her under his wing when she was a 17-year-old nightclub dancer.
The suggestions of a widespread immorality in high places and security concerns arising from the Profumo-Ivanov conjunction drew official attention to the activities of Ward, who was widely depicted as an amoral manipulator. In the highly-charged atmosphere following Profumo’s resignation Ward was tried on a series of immorality offences concerning Keeler, her friend Mandy Rice-Davis, and other women. Perceiving himself as a scapegoat, Ward died, apparently by his own hand, during the final stages of the trial, at which he was found guilty on two counts of living off immoral earnings (that means he was considered being their pimp).

Press clippings:
My hunch is that those who like Lloyd Webber best when he’s doomy-gloomy won’t warm to this show, but that those who have previously found him overwrought will find this sharp, funny – and, at times, genuinely touching – musical highly enjoyable.
Charles Spencer,Telegraph

This Side of the Sky
You’ve Never Had It So Good
Human Sacrifice
I’m Hopeless When It Comes to You


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