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Stephen Ward charts the rise and fall from grace of the society osteopath. Friend to film stars, spies, models, government ministers and aristocrats, his rise and ultimate disgrace coincided with the increasingly permissive lifestyle of London’s elite in the early 1960′s. The musical centres on 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 trials of the 20th century.
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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 honour – 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 recognise 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 centres 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.