Stephen Ward musical to close after four months in the West End

Viva Forever lasted seven months. From Here to Eternity will have survived for five by its last performance in March. Stephen Ward will only scrape to four, after it posted closing notices last night.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical had previously announced an extension until the end of May, but those plans were pulled and the last performance will now take place on 29 March – less than a month after its initial booking period.

The musical’s failure will be a huge blow to Lloyd Webber. “I haven’t had a hit in 20 years,” he told the Telegraph in December. “I’ve written six musicals in that time.”

However, none of those have flopped quite like Stephen Ward. Even the roundly mocked Love Never Dies strung together an 18-month run at the Aldwych theatre, while his collaboration with Ben Elton, The Beautiful Game, lasted 11 months.

That show will at least have a chance to restore its reputation later this year; its first London revival was announced yesterday. Lotte Wakeham, associate director on Matilda, will direct a fringe production that opens on 3 April at the Union theatre. Niamh Perry, who competed for the role of Nancy in Lloyd Webber’s BBC casting show I’d Do Anything, will lead the cast.

Love Never Dies saw its reputation overturned by its Australian premiere, which was subsequently released on DVD.

Stephen Ward’s producer Robert Fox said that he hoped the new musical would achieve the same feat in the future, praising Stephen Ward as “possibly Andrew’s best score in years, paired with some of the finest writing and lyrics Don [Black] and Christopher [Hampton] have ever delivered.

“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.”

The musical, directed by Richard Eyre, charts the unravelling of the Profumo affair, centring on the osteopath who introduced the politician John Profumo to Christine Keeler. It had a budget of £2.5m, but has reportedly been playing to half full houses for the last month. Tickets priced at £67.50 were available for £39.50.

Lloyd Webber said in December that he may not be able to afford to continue writing musicals. “The costs of doing musicals have risen absolutely hugely,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve got enough money to do very many more.”

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