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The Musical

Which brings us back to Stephen Ward The Musical. It failed despite The Daily Telegraph's critic (Charles Spencer) recommending the production as "sharp, funny – and, at times, genuinely touching".   

A couple of years ago, in 2012, a good friend very kindly shouted us, along with several other friends, to a night at Love Never Dies, the sequel to the Phantom of the Opera

After Jesus Christ Superstar I had more or less written off Lloyd Webber but this was truly spectacular.  The most brilliant staging I have ever seen.  And that includes several other musicals and quite a few operas in places like London New York and several other World capitals.

It was the last Andrew Lloyd Webber musical to grace the Sydney stage and was completely reworked for Sydney after failing in London.  It was then generally hailed as his first success in some years. 

But I doubt that Stephen Ward the Musical will make it to Sydney for a revamp. It’s so firmly embedded in its home town.

“Who the hell is or was Stephen Ward anyway?” many younger Australians may ask. 

Ward was brought to trial on what today looks like a trumped-up charge of living off immoral earnings.  If anything, the evidence suggests the girls lived off him.  He had a substantial income from legitimate business and let them stay in his properties at no charge.  

But he had to be locked up for something.  Couldn’t have him wandering around London after bringing down the government and implicating a couple of Royals in addition to destroying his mentor Viscount Astor in the scandal; not to mention that the chap was either a spy or the unwitting pawn of a spy. Poor show!

Andrew Lloyd Webber's failed musical is reportedly based on the premise that his trial was a miscarriage of justice. 

High profile Australian lawyer Geoffrey Robertson agrees and is campaigning to have the case to be reopened on a number of technical grounds, in particular because Christine Keeler, the prosecution's chief witness against Ward, was jailed for committing perjury at the trial of one of her lovers.

Apparently Ward was driven to suicide by the Establishment when all he had done was give some poor girls a home and to swan about ingratiating himself to all and sundry; to what end we can only speculate.  Living the highlife, imagining himself significant, I suppose.

It could be represented as a classic Greek tragedy.  The seeds of his downfall lay in his talent for drawing.  He did so want to meet and draw Nikita Khrushchev. 

Maybe he had a natural affinity for men destined to fall from grace.

When we were in Moscow I asked a guide at Lenin’s Tomb in Red Square to show me which grave was Khrushchev’s.   I was told he was the only deceased communist leader not there because he was mad. 

It appears that he fell from grace when deposed by Brezhnev and then proceeded to write his memoirs which were denounced as fraudulent by the new leaders, resulting in no State Funeral.  It was Khrushchev who ceded the Crimea to the Ukraine, a gift that has recently been reversed by the Russians (in early 2014) after the Ukraine government was overthrown by pro-Western activists.

 

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