LONDON - A new musical from British impresario and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber will delve into the sex, spies and politics at the heart of Britain's biggest post-war scandal when it opens in December.
"Stephen Ward" charts the rise and fall of a high society osteopath at the centre of the 1963 "Profumo Affair" which embarrassed the British establishment by exposing the decadent lifestyle of the London elite as the sexual revolution began.
"It's a little bit about the last gasp of the old Britain, whilst the new one was about to come and how the whole business led to the downfall of a government," Lloyd Webber told Reuters at the musical's launch on Monday.
A sample of the songs in the new production - sung live to the media by the cast in a Soho nightclub - provided a bawdy look into the lifestyle of a man who mixed party girls and powerful people at seedy London clubs and country houses.
"You've never had it so good," went one of the songs, twisting a famous quote by the prime minister of the day, Harold Macmillan, by adding: "You've never had it so often."
"Here you can have it off with some English toff," the song continued.
The 65-year-old composer of stage blockbusters "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera" said he told a theatre magazine that he was intrigued by the trial of Ward, who was convicted of living off the immoral earnings of two women, Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, as the Profumo scandal broke.
"The next day Mandy called me," Lloyd Webber said.
Rice-Davies contended that Ward was offered up as a scapegoat by the police, the establishment and the media to appease public morality. The osteopath took an overdose of sleeping pills during the trial and died three days after his conviction.