Multiple Tony Award- and Oliver Award-winning composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has his sights set on a West End run for his newest musical, Stephen Ward, by the end of 2013.
According to a report in the UK's Daily Mail on April 18, Webber is planning to begin rehearsals for the production in October, with previews beginning in late November. "That's dependent on the right theater being available," an executive involved with the production told the Daily Mail. "As of this moment, there isn't a signed theater. But there is a theater in sight." If a venue cannot be secured in time (reports say that Webber is searching for one that is mid-sized), the production will be postponed until spring or early summer 2014.
Cowritten with Christopher Hampton and Don Black, Stephen Ward is based on the historic Profumo Affair, the 1963 British political scandal named after the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo. Stephen Ward was a London osteopath who introduced Profumo to Christine Keeler, sparking an adulterous affair between them. The relationship was soon exposed to the public, as were reports that Keeler had also had an affair with an alleged Russian spy, causing political problems for Profumo in the midst of the Cold War.
Commenting on the project in a radio interview last year, Webber said, "Stephen Ward really intrigues me and was a fantastically interesting character." Webber described Ward as "the most popular man in London who ended up with absolutely nobody after the trial. I kind of think he was a fall guy. A very interesting guy."
Alexander Hanson (A Little Night Music), the current frontrunner for the title role, will participate in a run-through of some the musical numbers, directed by Richard Eyre, at Webber's country estate at Sydmonton this summer. He performed in a previous reading of the show, along with Hal Fowler as Profumo, Iris Roberts as Christine Keeler, and Carly Bawden as Mandy Rice Davies.