About this website
In the 1950s Julian Slade was probably as well known to London theatre-goers as Andrew Lloyd Webber is today. He was frequently compared to Noel Coward and Ivor Novello for the tunefulness of his music and the wit and charm of the lyrics he wrote with his writing partner Dorothy Reynolds. He was best known as the composer and co-writer of ‘Salad Days’ and ‘Free As Air’, both of which had significant runs in London’s West End. ‘Salad Days’ broke all records for a musical at the time, running for nearly six years at the Vaudeville Theatre. ‘Free As Air’ ran for over a year at the Savoy in 1957/8.
Julian and Dorothy had previously won a huge fan base in Bristol at the Bristol Old Vic with two years of packed out Christmas shows they had written and after ‘Free As Air’ they went on to write three more London musicals together. At Bristol Julian also wrote incidental music for Shakespeare plays and a complete new score for Sheridan’s ‘The Duenna’. This too proved very popular when it opened in London shortly before ‘Salad Days’.
He went on to write many more musicals, on his own or with other partners. They included adaptations of ‘Vanity Fair’, ‘The Pursuit of Love’ and ‘Trelawny of the Wells’ (‘Trelawny’), which was the most successful of the three.
On the Biography page you can learn more about Julian and how some of his shows came about. On the Shows page, as well as looking at details of each show, and the views of the critics of the day, you will be able to listen to extracts of some songs. Items under the Shows include a summary of Julian’s work, coverage of London productions of ‘Salad Days’ and ‘Free as Air’ between 2010 and 2014, comment, and tributes to some of those Julian worked with. The Julian Slade Award page features the full list the seven award winners since 2008. (‘Award Watch’ below lists the current activity of some of them). The Latest News pages keep you up to date with current news. And, if you would like to know more, do not hesitate to make use of the Contacts page.
When Julian died in 2006 he left behind a generation or more of theatre-goers with very happy musical memories of him. These and his life are detailed more fully on the pages that follow. Click on the links to find out MORE
FOLLOW THE NEWS OF THE
JULIAN SLADE AWARD WINNERS
Each year since 2007 an award has been given to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School student judged to have the most exceptional musical talent. Julian Slade often used to help similarly promising students at the School and, after he died, his brother Adrian and nephew Rupert, in full oo-peration with the School, helped to establish the new Julian Slade Award in his memory, The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is planning a 10th anniversary celebration of the Award at the Redgrave Theatre in Bristol on Sunday October 22 2017. It is hoped that all ten Julian Slade Award winners will be on stage performing Julian’s songs. Full details of this special evening will follow shortly. Keep looking out!
The Latest News from the Julian Slade Award Winners
‘ SHEPPEY’ and ‘ECHO’S END’
Katie Moore (2008 Award Winner) was back at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond from November-January 2017 in Somerset Maugham’s play ‘Sheppey’. Its first revival in over fifty years, The play was directed by Peter Mille. Since April she has again been winning good reviews from national critics for her leading role at the Salisbury Playhouse in ‘Echo’s End’, a First World War story of teenage love, set on a hill overlooking the army camp on Salisbury Plain.. Michael Billington (Guardian) wrote ‘The acting…..is very good. Katie Moore as Anna and Tom Byrne as John suggest a young couple who are privy to each other’s thoughts and feelings but who are forever separated by an imbalance of passion… A work that will, I suspect, lodge in the memory when flashier plays have faded into oblivion.’
‘HIGH SOCIETY’ and ‘EMMA’
Bethan Nash (2012 Award Winner), following her considerable critical success in January and February in the lead part of Tracy Samantha Lord in Cole Porter’s ‘High Society’ at The Mill at Sonning, will soon be taking on the lead part of Emma in a new Jane Austen adaptation by Tim Luscombe for The Production Exchange.. The play will open in late May for a two day run at the Leatherhead Theatre followed by 3-5 day runs through June and July at Guildford, Bath, Oxford, Malvern and Cambridge.
In November 2016 Bethan featured in an episode of ‘Casualty’ on BBC 1..
A MUSICAL ‘MEDEA’ part composed by two Award Winners
Jessica Temple and Ellie Jackson (2014 and 2015 Award Winners), have been back performing in Bristol at the Old Vic in a innovative production of ‘Medea’ for which they and the other four members of the all female cast, aided by co-composer Jon Nicholls, have written special songs and music. With the odd exception, the critics have been very enthusiastic about this highly original, if slightly controversial, version of the Medea story. Here are just three quotes from the most favourable reviews
“Not only is it exciting to see a cast of six bold, accomplished women on stage, it also highlights the beauty and the horror of the stories, both old and new. The cast never miss a beat and fill the beautifully designed stage with the epicness the story requires.’”
“George Mann’s production is steeped in song. More lines are sung than spoken, with the result sitting somewhere between a rock musical and chamber opera. The five-member chorus create everything from incessant rainfall to Maddy’s pent-up rage using only finger clicks, stomping feet and drumming on their own bodies. It’s a phenomenal feat of endurance”.
“Verdict: 4 **** An inventive reworking of Euripides featuring superb performances from an all-female cast”
THE TIMES – Dominic Maxwell
‘Ive seen productions of Medea that build to a more gut-wrenching finish, but none that brings with it such a nagging sense of dislocation, dread, injustice and resolve. It’s a great achievement for a young cast rounded out by Eleanor Jackson, Kerena James, Setphani Levi John and Jessica Temple’
Last year Jessica played Goneril at the Bristol Old Vic in Tom Morris’s production of ‘King Lear’. The 2016 Christmas season saw her at the National in London as an ensemble member in the cast of the Bristol Old Vic production of ‘Peter Pan’., which she also understudied John and Michael and the Lost Boy Twins.
THREE MUSICALS AND A MURDER
Ed MacArthur (2013 Award Winner) was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe each day last August appearing in ‘Stack’ his own, what he described as, ‘ a very silly musical comedy’ about an explorer. Ed also appeared each day in another of his own musical creations ‘Swansong’, a comedy with cappella music about the last four survivors of the apocalypse who survive on a swan pedal. Ed has recently been playing to packed houses in another two man production ‘Murder for Two’ an American musical/piano whodunnit which started at The Water Mill Newbury and was then transferred to the St James Theatre in London.for a further five week run
Click on The Julian Slade Award for other details of all Award Winners
ADRIAN SLADE wrote (March 2017)…….
VIRTUOSO VERSATILITY IN NEWBURY AND LONDON
Having just been to Newbury to see Ed MacArthur (and the one other member of the cast, Jeremy Legat) in ‘Murder For Two’ at the Watermill, my wife and I were rocked not just by the dotty zaniness and musicality of this highly enjoyable two man comedy whodunnit from the States but particularly by the virtuoso versatility of the two performers. We saw the last matinee in Newbury but luckily the show will live on because it transfers to the St James Theatre in London in March, where it will run for another three weeks.
Set at the scene of a murder in New York, the show translates the whole police investigation by an aspiring young police detective into a helterskelter melange of music, plot and questioning of a dozen male and female suspects or witnesses. Ed MacArthur plays the detective. Jeremy Legat plays all the suspects, witnesses and hangers-on.. Separately and together they both play the piano, accompany each other and sing songs,, with astonishing vigour and skill and some of the songs very witty and catchy.
With the aid of some quick fire dialogue delivered by Ed and by all Jeremy’s impersonations you eventually arrive at the conclusion of the case. You may never quite take in everything that has gone on or perhaps even who is actually the murderer but Jeremy Legat’s astonishing ability to play the piano and men and women of all ages and types all at one time and Ed Macarthur’s equal talent with script, song and dance make ‘Murder For Two’ an irresistible entertainment for all lovers of musical eccentricity.
ADRIAN SLADE wrote (January 2017)…….
: ‘November, December and January are proving particularly busy months for a number of our Award winners. I know because my wife and I have been to see five of them on stage, and what a rewarding experience it has been. In ‘The Shakespeare Review’ at Richmond Theatre Alex Morgan (2009) was one of the leading members of a very versatile and funny group of performers in this enjoyable send-up of Shakespeare and his plays. It was very good to catch up with him again. The following week we were again in Richmond, this time at my favourite local theatre, The Orange Tree’, to see Katie Moore (2008) playing two key roles in ‘Sheppey’, an untypical, cleverly written play by Somerset Maugham about the consequences for a hairdresser called “Sheppey’, when he wins a big prize in a lottery. Katie plays a neat and tidy manicurist in the first act but shines in the second as Sheppey’s ambitious and difficult daughter. Katie was a key player at the Orange Tree last year in ‘German Skerries’ and two years before that she won plaudits in London in the lead part of Jane in ‘Salad Days’ at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith.
Next stop for us was Bristol where we saw our latest Award winner Verity Blyth (2016) transform herself into ‘Silver’ (or as he is known more fully ‘Long John Silver’) in the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s production of ‘Treasure Island’. Despite the incumbrance of a wooden leg and the heavy disguise of a pirate Verity managed to act, sing and move with considerable agility and skill and there is no doubt that, when given the chance, she has a wonderful singing voice. Her performance made sure that the show was loved by grown ups and many young children in the Redgrave Theatre audience.
Another wonderful singing voice revealed itself to us for the first time when we then saw Bethan Nash (2012) playing Grace Kelly’s original) part in a thrilling production of ‘High Society’ at that delightfully sited Berkshire theatre The Mill at Sonning. Although the whole cast was excellent there was absolutely no doubt that Bethan was the star of the show. She dances well, she has great acting style, and winds the audience around her little finger. She deserves to go very far.
Initially Barrie traditionalists may have a few difficulties with the Bristol Old Vic production of ‘Peter Pan’ at the National, our final port of call. Everyone, including the dog Nana, is an adult; Captain Hook is an evil woman;, Tinkerbell is a curious gobbledygook-speaking flying gnome and there is also a good deal of modern singing and dancing which does not always add to comprehension. But you soon get used to the free and easy interpretation of the familiar story and the cast, which includes Jessica Temple (2014) playing and understudying various roles, is excellent, as is the production with its very ingenious use of flying.
The whole audience ended the evening on a high note.
Our next Award Winner visit wass to see Ed MacArthur (2013) in a murder comedy called ‘Murder for Two’ at the Water Mill, Newbury in February. (See above)
VERITY BLYTH. THE 2016 WINNER OF THE JULIAN SLADE AWARD
Singing has always been a huge part of Verity’s life, having danced and taken part in local drama programs from a very young age.
Her background in dance naturally directed her toward musical theatre and while at College and University, she took on parts such as Eva Peron in ‘Evita’ (2010 & 2012), Johanna in ‘Sweeney Todd’ (2011) and Sharpay in ‘High School Musical’ (2014). ‘
Before joining the acting course at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 2015, she played the character of Peaches in the original musical ‘Americana’ by HB Productions (2013-2015, stage@leeds, Edinburgh Fringe, Stratford East Theatre) in which her performance was awarded the ‘Best Performance in a Musical (Sunday Times)’ Award at the National Student Drama Festival (2014, Scarborough). She describes herself as ‘fortunate enough’ to go on to record a soundtrack and music video with this company earlier in the following year.
During the first year at her two year course at BOVTS, she began to build her professional CV with credits such as Portia in ‘The Merchant of Venice’. Now in her second year, she may have advanced the cause of women in the theatre by giving a lively and sonorous performance as ‘Silver’ (note not ‘Long John’) in the BOVTS’ Christmas production of ‘Treasure Island’ ..
In May of her final term at the Theatre School Verity will be playing Kassandra .in ‘Iceland’ a ‘director’s cut’ play chosen by Canadian director Geoff Brumlik, Kassandra, a young Estonian woman who is working as an ecort,.is one of three characters in the play which is set against the background of the 2006 global financial crisis. It will be staged at the Wardrobe Theatre Bristol.
In her first graduate show, from June 23 – July 1, she will be playing two characters in a play called 13 about 13 characters who share the same nightmare, It will be staged at The Tobacco Factory, Bristol.
The tenth (2017) BOVTSl student to win the Julian Slade Award for Musical Talent will be announced in July.