Andrew Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward musical to close after just three months

Poor ticket sales mean Lloyd Webber's latest effort will close early in March

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The Independent Culture

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Stephen Ward has been axed from the West End following poor ticket sales after a run of just over three months.

The composer’s latest show opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre on 19 December but the final curtain will now fall two months earlier than planned on 29 March.

Stephen Ward had a relatively low budget of £2.5 million, but tickets originally valued at £67.50 were reportedly being sold in the last month for £39.50.

The musical focuses on the title character, played by Alexander Hanson.

An osteopath and socialite, Ward was at the centre of the ill-fated 1963 sex scandal involving Conservative politician John Profumo and 19-year-old model Christine Keeler.

Ward died from an overdose of sleeping pills after being found guilty for allegedly living off immoral earnings made by prostitutes.

Lloyd Webber penned the music, while the book and lyrics were written by Christopher Hampton and Don Black. Richard Eyre has directed and Robert Fox Limited and the Really Useful Group produced.


“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,” Fox said in a statement.

“The piece set out to explore his fascinating life as a piece of serious theatre which has now been told to a new generation.

Fox went on to praise "Andrew’s best score in years".

"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," he added.

Alexander Hanson, here with Charlotte Blackledge as Mandy Rice-Davies, plays the title role in Stephen Ward

Stars including Elaine Paige, Dame Judi Dench, Jimmy Carr and film director Tom Hooper attended Stephen Ward’s opening night, but reviews were mixed.

Stephen Ward review: 'Lloyd Webber's never had it so...laboured

Despite creating such West End classics as the The Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Cats, Lloyd Webber has not enjoyed a resounding success for a long-time. His Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies, managed 15 months at the Adelphi Theatre but failed to live up to the reception of its original.

Even Lloyd Webber admitted his doubts shortly before Stephen Ward launched, saying in an interview with the London Evening Standard: “It’s an amazing piece of work. Whether it’s a commercial piece of work is another question. I haven’t had a hit in 20 years.

"I’ve written six musicals in that time. I’m resigned now to the fact that anything I do probably nobody is going to like.”