Hanson leads as Lloyd Webber’s Ward

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Alexander Hanson as Stephen Ward (Photo: Simon Turtle)Alexander Hanson as Stephen Ward (Photo: Simon Turtle)
Charlotte Blackledge as Mandy Rice Davies and Charlotte Spencer as Christine Keeler (Photo: Simon Turtle)Charlotte Blackledge as Mandy Rice Davies and Charlotte Spencer as Christine Keeler (Photo: Simon Turtle)
Charlotte Spencer as Christine Keeler, Alexander Hanson as Stephen Ward and Charlotte Blackledge as Mandy Rice Davies (Photo: Simon Turtle)Charlotte Spencer as Christine Keeler, Alexander Hanson as Stephen Ward and Charlotte Blackledge as Mandy Rice Davies (Photo: Simon Turtle)

London musical theatre regular Alexander Hanson has been unveiled as the performer who will step into the title role of the scandal-creating society osteopath in new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Stephen Ward, which opens at the Aldwych theatre in December.

The actor, who previously worked with the composer and theatrical impresario on the recent UK arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, the London Palladium revival of The Sound Of Music and Sunset Boulevard, is joined in the 60s-set show by double Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding (Valerie Hobson), Anthony Calf (Lord Astor), Daniel Flynn (John Profumo), Charlotte Spencer (Christine Keeler) and Charlotte Blackledge (Mandy Rice Davies) who makes her professional stage debut in the production.

The eagerly anticipated Richard Eyre-directed musical, Webber's first since The Phantom Of The Opera sequel Love Never Dies, charts the rise and fall of Ward, whose friendship with stars, spies, models and MPs led to him playing a key role in one of British politics most notorious scandals.

Both Riding and Spencer have previously worked with director Eyre, former Billy Elliot The Musical star Riding on The Pyjama Game in Chichester, and Spencer as a child performer, when she played Jane Banks in the West End production of Mary Poppins.

Calf, whose credits at the National Theatre include The Madness Of George III, Betrayal and Gethsemane, is currently starring alongside Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor in Private Lives, while Flynn, who performed with Calf in The White Guard, was last seen on the London stage in Bracken Moor at the Tricycle theatre.

The show's cast is completed by Martin Callaghan, Kate Coyston, Jason Denton, Julian Forsyth, Amy Griffiths, Paul Kemble, Emma Kate Nelson, Carl Sanderson, Emily Squibb, John Stacey, Helen Ternent and Tim Walton.

Stephen Ward will hope to follow in the award-winning footsteps of the Aldwych theatre's current toe-tapping production, Top Hat, which won three Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, at this year's ceremony. In the minds of many, though, it will be closely matched against From Here To Eternity, the new musical featuring lyrics by Lloyd Webber's former collaborator Tim Rice that opens at the Shaftesbury theatre in October.

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