Skip to main content

Poor old Andrew

I feel a bit sorry for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Only a bit, you understand. But he is probably feeling a bit depressed about his latest musical, Stephen Ward, which closed at the weekend after running for less than four months with so-so ticket sales.

It perhaps wasn't the most inspired of choices for the subject of a musical. Outside the UK no one is likely to have heard of the Profumo affair, and even here, what was once a national scandal has become a vague, faded memory. Yet there is no doubt that there was an interesting story there.

We went to see Stephen Ward on Friday, its penultimate day, and I'm glad we did. It was no Cats or Phantom of the Opera. It wasn't packed full of memorable tunes. It only really had one lyrical song, though there were a couple of distinctly effective pieces (even if the one for the orgy scene is worryingly reminiscent of Bustopher Jones in White Spats in places - though ALW has always had a habit of reusing musical flourishes). Notable was the opening song, Human Sacrifice, with its bizarre setting of the Blackpool chamber of horrors, an extremely atmospheric piece. All in all, though, it was an effective evening's musical theatre. And as well as making for an enjoyable outing, it did really make you think about the hypocrisy of the establishment in the early 60s.

I would much rather go to a fine but not flashy work like this than a large scale 'musical' that is just a rehash of existing pop songs in a strung-together storyline like Mamma Mia or We Will Rock You. At least this was original music, written for this story, and producing a whole with a degree of integrity. So while I can understand why Stephen Ward wasn't a hit - and I would have been reluctant to have paid full price to see it - I think that it deserved to have been seen by rather more people. And that genuinely does make me feel the teeniest bit sorry for our Andrew.


Popular posts from this blog

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope