While it was neat to mount a musical about the society osteopath at the heart of the Profumo affair 50 years after the Old Bailey trial that resulted in his suicide, a December opening must have weighed in the balance against the news-value of the anniversary tie-in: it struck me as too dark a topic to set against the Christmas lights.And what with the grisly coincidence of the ceiling collapse at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue on its press night and the subsequent dreadful weather, it’s as if the calendar has worked against it.It is believed that Jacobs ordered his clerk Eddie Marks to get rid of the portraits.But Marks instead decided to give the works to his friend George Olaf Spanswick, an avid art collector.He is also getting used to these kinds of box-office rebuffs – his last triumph, as he himself pointed out, was 20 years ago with Sunset Boulevard.
Much was made of it as a departure for Lloyd Webber in terms of wit and humour.
He quoted the American theatre impresario Jimmy Nederlander Senior, who told him in 1971, on the opening night of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, "'There is no limit to the number of people who won’t buy tickets to a show they won’t want to see! That has stayed with me all my life." He added, stoically: "If this show doesn’t really take off, it will be gone by February." In the event, faced with low attendances, it will struggle on until the end of March.
Lord Lloyd-Webber is a pick-yourself-up-and-dust-yourself-down kind of guy.
The premature demise of a new original musical in the West End is never a great cause for celebration, even if you're one of those who believe that Andrew Lloyd Webber, so dominant for decades, deserves taking down a peg or two.
When I interviewed the multi-millionaire composer ahead of the opening of Stephen Ward in December, he was fully aware that it might not find an audience.