Stephen Ward

  • Stephen Ward

    Alex Hanson & Charlotte Spencer in the 2013 West End production (Photo: Nobby Clarke)

1963. The Scandal that Shook Society.

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black.

Stephen Ward deals with the victim of the Profumo Affair—not, as is widely supposed, John “Jack” Profumo himself, the disgraced Minister for War, nor even the fatally wounded Conservative government of Harold Macmillan, but the society osteopath whose private libertarian experiments blew up in his own and everyone else’s face.

In a trial as emblematic to the twentieth century as Oscar Wilde’s was to the nineteenth—from which he was the only protagonist to emerge with some dignity and honor—Ward became the targeted scapegoat of a furiously self-righteous Establishment.

By no means a hero, he was a reluctant martyr, thanks to an unholy alliance between Press and police of a kind we can all too readily recognize today; inadvertently, he was the hinge between two worlds and the harbinger of a revolution in manners, music and morals when the ordered, stuffy, respectful universe of the fifties gave way to the classless, truculent, unstoppable sixties.

Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christopher Hampton and Don Black, and directed by Richard Eyre, the musical centers on Stephen Ward’s 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.

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