Andrew Lloyd Webber's New Musical Focuses on Scandal and The Sexual Revolution in England
Sex sells as well in theater as it does in any medium, and Andrew Lloyd Webber looks to take advantage of the fact for his new musical Stephen Ward, which will open in London during December.
The play revolves around the "Profumo Affair" that rocked England during 1963. John Profumo, the war secretary became romantically involved with Christine Keeler, who was simultaneously sleeping with a Soviet naval officer. Although Profumo was shamed, the man who introduced Keeler to him, Stephen Ward, was convicted on charges of pimping. He eventually overdosed on sleeping pills before being jailed.
Webber sees the individual act of the Profumo Affair being a less important aspect of the plot, dedicating less than three minutes to it. More importantly, the focus will revolve around the themes of sexual change in British society at the time (as a side note, the first "James Bond" came out in 1962), and Cold War paranoia. The writer also sees Ward's treatment as one of the "great perversions of justice" and suggests that something deeper may have been going on, pointing out the transcripts and papers from Ward's trial are sealed from the public until 2046.
The song "Human Sacrifice," which was previewed for critics and theater industry employees in London, demonstrates how Ward was crucified to divert attention from more dire causes.
Webber got some help to keep the production honest as well: Mandy Rice-Davies, a former topless dancer and friend of Keeler's that was involved with the scandal as well, agreed to consult on the play. She said that she believed Webber would "make an honest witness."