Stephen Chapman

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Stephen Ward

stephenwardLast night Pete and I went to see the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Stephen Ward. The musical is about the Profumo affair and the story of Stephen Ward who was set up by the Westminster establishment and the Police for his involvement.

I am not a huge fan of theatres: not enough space and annoying people, but hey these tickets were free (Pete won yet another competition) so we ventured through the rainy night to the Aldwich.

I’m trying to find some positives from the evening, but am struggling…

It starts with the title character singing and this seemed to drag on for 25 minutes before he left the stage and let someone else sing. The scene with the song, “Never had it do good” was meant to be funny. It was all about middle age sex romps… but it wasn’t funny, it was naff, uncomfortable and incredibly immature. No one laughed around us. The naked part of another scene was too “carry on” and again, people were more embarrassed than humoured.

There was a song with the two main girls singing in the flat which sounded lifeless, like bad amdram. It was possibly the most amateurish scene I’ve seen in a West End show.  And every now and again a “fuck” was dropped into the conversation and that seemed unnecessary and out of place.

The song by Profumo’s wife was pure filler and one line is a ripoff of “I just don’t know what to do with myself “. If you took the song out, no-one would notice. And the Police interrogations just went on and on and on with no recognisable melody.

The whole production sounded strangely flat and dull and at times sounded like a school production, despite the great voices on the stage.  The arrangement was unimaginative and just generic West End.  For me, it needs trimming by 30 minutes and have new arrangements for the police interviews and courtroom, as they jump all over the place.

Overall, I was surprised at just how bad this was.  The story is interesting, but not enough for 2 hours and certainly didn’t sit well as a musical.

For a man who wrote the amazing Jesus Christ Superstar, it looks like he’s just run out of steam.

4 comments on “Stephen Ward

  1. Raybeard
    December 17, 2013

    I heard Lord L W bring interviewed on Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’ last night, and I can’t tell you how much I would LOVE to see this, despite your own opinion. But theatre is much more my world – if I could afford it – than, it seems, is yours.
    It’s true that LW hasn’t hit the sublime heights which he did with his three early Time Rice collaborations (though ‘Cats’ wasn’t far off it, and I did very much like ‘Starlight Express with Richard Stilgoe’s sardonically witty lyrics), but even so just about anything by him I still consider worthwhile.
    Disappointed that you actually use that word ‘bad’ – a very big and precise word. But then a couple of years ago I went to see a production of his ‘Jeeves’ (collab with Alan Ayckbourn), where a chap walked out at the interval vociferously proclaiming that it was “utter rubbish” – and I thoroughly enjoyed it! So, who knows? I want to think that I’d like ‘Stephen Ward’ too.

    Btw: Must say I’m not that that fond of Don Black as a lyricist, so that might be something which wouldn’t help matters?

  2. sfchapman
    December 17, 2013

    A friend of mine also saw it and he liked it. He’s wrong of course. 🙂

    Pete wanted to leave at the interval!

  3. Raybeard
    December 17, 2013

    I’m looking forward even more to seeing reviews of it. So far yours is the only one. Even if they’re all damning I’d still pay to see it.

  4. Pingback: This week I have been… | Stephen Chapman

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This entry was posted on December 17, 2013 by in Art, culture and tagged .

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