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.
SATIRICAL SONGS OF TWO SLADES
Julian Slade is well known for writing musicals. Less well known is that 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.
He brought this talent for funny songs to the Cambridge Footlights, as did his brother Adrian eight years later after national service in Germany where he had already established something of a reputation for mockery in the officers’ messes of BAOR.
In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, as well as performing for Footlights, he became a regular cabaret performer at the Royal Court Theatre Club and at dances and other events in and outside London and Cambridge.
On a number of occasions Julian and Adrian performed together, often for audiences that included the kind of people they were lampooning.
Why not listen to the satirical songs of the Slades, Julian or Adrian? There are two unique CDs you can buy, both played and sung by Adrian. ‘The Funny Side Of Slade’ features songs by Julian. ‘Late Night Slade’ is all Adrian’s work. You can buy the two CDs, and get one other free CD, by clicking CDs and DVDs
2016: WHY NOT ‘75000 NIGHTS’?
In May 1966 the Bristol Old Vic celebrated the 200th anniversary of the building of the Theatre Royal with an extravaganza of a show, put together with a cast of fifty-one and the involvement of no fewer than ten directors. Called ‘60,000 Nights’ (the actual time that had passed since the original theatre opening), the show was devised by the Bristol Old Vic’s artistic director Val May with script and research by George Rowell. The music was written by Julian Slade and he and George Rowell also wrote the lyrics of the songs.
The show drew on the factual history of the theatre – its building, its productions and the many illustrious actors and actresses who performed there over the two centuries – for example, Sarah Siddons, William Macready, Edmund Kean and Ellen Terry, to name the earlier generations. Its cast included many who were to make, or had already made, their names, for example Jane Asher (pictured here as Ellen Terry), Anna Carteret, Pamela Charles, Paul Eddington, Jane Lapotaire, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Frank Middlemas, Richard Pasco and Richard Stilgoe, to recall just a few.
The Bristol audiences loved ’60,000 Nights’, no doubt particularly when the Bristol Old Vic’s patron, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent attended a Special Performance on June 2 (programme pictured here)
Now, fifty years (or 15000 nights) on, the Theatre Royal celebrates its 250th birthday. A number of events are already being planned but wouldn’t it be nice if, before the end of 2016, some of that 1966 show was reprised in the theatre in an up-dated tribute to its foundation?
‘75000 Nights’ perhaps? ADRIAN SLADE
The Latest News from the Julian Slade Award Winners
Jessica Temple (2014 Award Winner), who leaves the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School at the end of this term, has already been given the opportunity to play her first professional role. She is playing Goneril at the Theatre Royal Bristol in Tom Morris’s Bristol Old Vic production of ‘King Lear’. The production, which stars Timothy West as Lear, runs from June 18 -July10. Other key members of the cast include Stephanie Cole and David Hargreaves.
Katie Moore (2008 Award Winner) plays a key part in a revival of ‘German Skerries’, an award-winning play by Robert Holman, that is running at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond from March 3 to April 4 and then going on tour to Reading, Scarborough, Lancaster and Hull. In the last three years she has been acting at a number of theatrical venues, including Manchester, Coventry, Bristol, Oxford and Stoke-on-Trent. Recently she has been making a film ‘Icarus;time and the edge of destiny’, based on a novel by Brian Greene and scored by Philip Glass The film will be showing in opera houses around the world from the autumn. Katie was last seen in London in 2013 in the lead role of Jane in ‘Salad Days’ at the Riverside Studios..
‘MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING’
Since October Ali Watt (2010 Award Winner) has been playing Siegfried Sassoon in Eden Court’s touring production of ‘Not About Heroes’. The production toured out of Inverness to the Tron in Glasgow, the Traverse in Edinburgh, the Byre in St Andrews and various venues in the Highlands. Now he is joining Dundee Repertory where he will be playing Don John in their summer production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.’