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.
JOHN KNOWLES, who in 2008, with his design flair, technical knowledge and long experience of producing websites, first created the format for julianslade.com. I may have contributed most of the copy content and some of the visual and audio ideas over the last seven years but it has been John who has had the technical know how to make it all possible. Without him it would never have happened. For the last seven years he has managed the site and patiently put up with me every time I wanted to update or make changes. With his help the number of ‘Visits’ and ‘Hits’ noted on the site has grown every year. Now John is retiring and the trustees of the Julian Slade Literary Estate i.e. my brother Christopher and I, would like publicly to thank him for all he has done and wish him very well for the future.
JOHNNY MORRIS, for kindly agreeing to take John’s place and, in the process, not only create a new format for the site that reflects the needs of today’s technological age but also teach me how to manage, maintain and update the site myself with minimal need for his assistancne after we are set up. Apparently that is the way of the website world today so let us hope that I am capable of learning enough from his experience to make sure that ‘Visitors’ old and new are not disappointed with what they see and read.
Why not listen to the wit of two Slade brothers in 2016?
For Cambridge, Bristol or West End audiences Julian Slade, wrote nineteen full scale musicals or Christmas shows, some on his own and some in partnership with collaborators, including seven with Dorothy Reynolds. He also wrote full new scores for Sheridan’s ‘The Duenna’ andShakespeare’s ‘A Comedy of Errors ‘ and incidental music for several other Shakespeare plays.
Less well known is his involvement, and that of his six years younger brother Adrian, in cabaret and the Cambridge Footlights.
From a very early age Julian had performed at the piano, writing sharp satirical songs about famous people, upper middle class behaviour, and the attitudes of the 1940s and ‘50s.
When his brother Adrian first went up to Cambridge in 1956 after national service in Germany, he had already established something of a reputation in the officers’ messes of BAOR as a cabaret performer of his own songs and monologues mocking officer life in the army.
In vacations from Cambridge he continued to plough his own furrow as a solo cabaret performer at ‘deb’ dances and charity balls.
In 1957 he became the piano performer and song-writer with the Cambridge Footlights’ cabaret team that entertained at university dances and other events outside Cambridge. One of these was Clement Freud’s Royal Court Theatre Club where Adrian added political to social comment in his songs and continued to entertain night club audiences for four weeks a year until the club closed in 1963.
On a number of occasions in the ‘50s and ‘60s Julian and Adrian performed together, frequently for audiences that included the kind of people they were lampooning. On other occasions Julian would play and sing his songs in cabaret with members of the cast of one of his shows.
If you would like to listen to the satirical songs of the Slades, Julian or Adrian, or you need to find a cheerful musical present for someone , there are two unique CDs you can buy, both played and sung by Adrian. You will find fuller details of both CDs, and one other free CD by clicking CDs and DVDs. Their titles are:
‘THE FUNNY SIDE OF SLADE’– Cabaret songs by Julian that you have never heard. 1946-60
‘LATE NIGHT SLADE’ –Cabaret songs and monologues by Adrian. 1955-1963.
‘CLEOPATRA’ (FREE) – A single recording of the famous song from ‘Salad Days’, made in 2011
The Latest News from the Julian Slade Award Winners
‘NOT ABOUT HEROES’
Since October Ali Watt (2010) has been playing Siegfried Sassoon in Eden Court’s touring production of ‘Not About Heroes’. The production will tour out of Inverness to the Tron in Glasgow, the Traverse in Edinburgh, the Byre in St Andrews and various venues in the Highlands.
2014 Award Winner Jessica Nicklin, now in her final year at the Theatre School, has changed her stage name to Jessica Temple. She has been playing Madame MacAdam in ‘The Madame MacAdam Travelling Theatre’ which ran at the Bristol Old Vic from October 30 to November 10.
This Christmas (2015) Bethan will be playing Wendy in an adaptation of Peter Pan called ‘Neverland’, at the Lakeside Arts Theatre in Nottingham. It will be directed by Martin Berry. In September she was to be seen at The Old Market Theatre in Brighton playing Juliet in what was originally a Bristol Old Vic Theatre School travelling production of ‘Romeo & Juliet’.