New musical on the scene, Stephen Ward at the Aldwych, with music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber was a show I recently took a trip to thanks to the kindness of a friend who had won tickets. I’d already planned to see it this side of Christmas however it was a welcome surprise to have this trip moved forward!
While wanting to see this show, I still didn’t know much about it and the contextual elements of the narrative, what I now know is that the book tells of the Profumo Affair of 1963, however it’s told from the perspective of the victims more than Jack Profumo himself.
The staging of this musical I personally thought was brilliant, the use of a revolver as part of the stage with the luxurious curtains hanging down definitely made me think of them as a visual metaphor for the affair, secrecy and lies tied up with the air of wealth and importance.
Albeit with music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, for me I didn’t hear the songs in this show and hear them screaming that they were written by Webber apart from a choice few. Two of my favourite songs from Stephen Ward do sound like what you’d most likely expect from Webber, This Side of the Sky in the first act and I’m Hopeless When It Comes To You in the second act. I also particularly enjoyed the raunchy You’ve Never Had It So Good, and the fun act one closer 1963.
The cast led by Alexander Hanson (Stephen Ward), Charlotte Spencer (Christine Keeler) and Charlotte Blackledge (Mandy Rice-Davies) were superb, Hanson as Stephen Ward is definitely a perfect choice with the strength in his voice for the songs, and Spencer makes for a vulnerable yet growing Keeler. The ensemble of the show were also very tight, despite having only been in previews for a few weeks the fluidity and familiarity appears to be there which is fantastic to see.
Despite being ignorant to the political notions in this show, I did understand it and was able to follow it throughout the show. When discussing the show with my mum and her partner they were able to recall more of the Profumo Affair and knew more of the details, therefore I think this show will perhaps suit to an audience who are already aware of the Affair.
However, I really hope this doesn’t deter anyone from going as I went without knowing what to expect and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was intrigued, laughed along with the characters, felt their pain and anguish and was impressed visually by the production as a whole too.
Give new musicals a chance, go and see Stephen Ward!
For more info on the show and tickets!