The West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest show, Stephen Ward, will complete its run at the Aldwych Theatre next month – after a run of less than four months. Stephen Ward received its world premiere in December 2013 with a cast led by Alexander Hanson in the title role, Charlotte Spencer as Christine Keeler and Charlotte Blackledge as Mandy Rice Davies.
The show, based around the Profumo Affair (a true sex and spies scandal that rocked London in the sixties), cost £2.5 million to stage and was attended by stars such as Dame Judi Dench, James Corden, Jimmy Carr, Elaine Paige and Arlene Phillips.
But theatre fans didn’t warm to Stephen Ward and ticket sales have been slow forcing West impresario, Andrew Lloyd Webber – whose hits include Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Evita – to make the decision to pull the plug.
Producer, Robert Fox, said: “I am very proud of the show and our wonderful Company. Andrew has never been afraid to embrace difficult and challenging subject matters and Ward’s strong and compelling story highlights a serious miscarriage of justice. The piece set out to explore his fascinating life as a piece of serious theatre, which has now been told, to a new generation. The strong critical reviews commend what I think is possibly Andrew’s best score in years, paired with some of the finest writing and lyrics Don and Christopher have ever delivered. I am very sad to see the show close in London but firmly believe this piece will be seen by many audiences in the future.”
Lord Lloyd Webber’s much-hyped musical will close on the 29 March – the same day that From Here To Eternity ends at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Sir Tim Rice’s adaptation of James Jones’s wartime novel was due to run until the end of April.
That the music maestros’ new shows are both closing on the same day reveals the difficulty involved in launching a historically themed production, in an era where the West End is dominated by jukebox musicals or revivals.