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.
ALAN BRODIE AGREES TO REPRESENT THE JULIAN SLADE LITERARY ESTATE
Making their first change of theatrical agency for ten years Julian Slade’s two surviving brothers Christopher and Adrian, the executors of his Literary Estate, are very pleased to announce that Alan Brodie has agreed to become their theatrical representative.
Alan Brodie Representation is one of London’s best known agencies, counting among its clients not just a number of well known actors, directors and dramatists but also other important literary estates including Noël Coward, Terence Rattigan, Bertolt Brecht, Thornton Wilder and NF Simpson.
Commenting on his appointment Alan Brodie said “I am thrilled to be representing the Estate of Julian Slade. Julian is such an important part of the history of the Great British Songbook and has to be mentioned in same breath as such great British post-war songwriters like Noël Coward, Ivor Novello, Sandy Wilson and Vivian Ellis. I am a huge admirer of his work and am determined to do everything I possibly can to bring him to the attention of new generations of audience.”
Adrian Slade adds. “We are really delighted that Alan is willing to work with us. I have long been an admirer of the fantastic job he and his team do for the Noël Coward Estate and we were very pleased to discover his enthusiasm for Julian’s work and his willingness to help us to promote it. When productions of Julian’s ‘Salad Days’ and ‘Free As Air’ were staged in London again not long ago they demonstrated very well how his shows and music can also appeal to modern audiences. There is plenty more of his work where those shows came from. We hope today’s public may soon become more familiar with it.”
MICHAEL GOVE’S SALAD DAYS!
2016 ‘BREXITEER’ Michael Gove, former Conservative Education Secretary and Secretary for Justice, recently gave a long interview to journalist Ann Treneman ( The Times Magazine 6.10.16). When asked what he thought about Prime Minister Teresa May’s views on grammar schools he gave what Ms Treneman described as a ‘classic Gove’ answer that she reported as follows:
‘In my final year at school [Aberdeen where he grew up], we put on this incredibly cheesy Fifties musical called ‘Salad Days’ by a man called Julian Slade. The reason I mention it – I mean it was outdated in the Fifties – there is a song in it which is… “
Much to her amazement he then starts to sing – in a fine voice too.
“’If I start looking behind me and begin retracing my tracks(sic)/ I’ll remind you to remind me we said we wouldn’t look back’. Now it’s in my mind – as a 17 year old you learn all these things- and so don’t look back! Defend your record, reflect on your mistakes but the key thing is, I really enjoyed being Education Secretary. It was a fantastic privilege’.
A comment from Julian’s brother ADRIAN SLADE
‘BRENTRY’ 1961? Michael Gove may have found ‘Salad Days’ cheesy but at least he can still sing its best known song and his view of the show is not shared by the many thousands of theatre-goers who have seen a production in the last sixty years. It was the West End’s longest running musical of the 1950s. Running for six years at the Vaudeville Theatre from 1954-60, it outlasted ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘West Side Story’. Since then it has enjoyed three successful London revivals and each year since 1960 there have been at least five to twenty amateur productions staged somewhere in the UK.
Mr Gove is too young to have shared his Brexit views of today with the almost identical views, hysteria and prejudices expressed by the Tory backbenchers and their shire equivalents of 1961, when Prime Minister Harold Macmillan tried to persuade General de Gaulle to let Britain into the EU, or Common Market as it was know then.
I wrote a satirical cabaret song about all that in 1961. Not long ago my son Rupert listened again to my 2007 recording of it. His reaction was ‘My God, Dad. Nothing changes. You must put it on YouTube.’ So we have. Plus ca change!
You (and Michael Gove?) can listen to it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaLuCs6iQIc
Called ‘Ashes to Ashes’ (long before David Bowie’s song) it is also No 19 in the list of songs on my ‘Late Night Slade’ CD. To find out more about that click CDs and DVDs above.
VERITY BLYTH. THE 2016 WINNER OF THE JULIAN SLADE AWARD
Each year since 2008 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,
This year Verity Blyth becomes the ninth winner of the Award. Expressing her delight at being chosen she told us ‘Singing has always been a huge part of my life, having danced and taken part in local drama programs from a very young age. My background in dance naturally directed me toward musical theatre and, whilst at College and University, I 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’ and in her second year she may be advancing the cause of women in the theatre when, in the autumn, she will be playing ‘Silver’ (Note Not ‘Long John’) in ‘Treasure Island’ which will be staged at Bristol’s Redgrave Theatre.
The Latest News from the Julian Slade Award Winners
‘THREE LITTLE PIGS’ AND ‘THE SHAKESPEARE REVUE’ ‘
Alex Morgan (2009 Award Winner), is touring over the Summer and Autumn with ‘The Three Little Pigs’ (Styles & Drewe) and ‘The Shakespeare Revue’ (Malcolm McKee and Chris Luscombe), playing at Eastbourne (Devonshire Park Theatre), Cambridge (Arts Theatre),,Bristol (Colston Hall), Bath (Theatre Royal), Malvern (Festival Theatre),.Guildford (Yvonne Arnaud) and Richmond (Theatre). Both productions are by Kenny Wax, the two shows having been seen previously in the West End. By way of contrast Alex is also appearing in a leading role in the music video ‘Forever’ , by the band, MIAMIGO.
HIS TWO NEW MUSICALS AT EDINBURGH
Ed MacArthur (2013 Award Winner) was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe each day in August appearing in ‘Stack‘ his own, what he describes as, ‘very silly musical comedy’ about an explorer. ‘True – it’s silly, but proper laugh-out-loud silliness’ said the Onstage Review ‘– a Boy’s Own Adventure updated to the world of today. It’s a brilliant meeting of talent and form, creating something greater than either part could manage alone.” 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 pedalo.
‘KING LEAR’ AND ‘PETER PAN’
Jessica Temple (2014 Award Winner), who left the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in July, was recently given the opportunity to play her first professional role. She played Goneril at the Theatre Royal Bristol in Tom Morris’s Bristol Old Vic production of ‘King Lear’. The production, which starred Timothy West as Lear. Other key members of the cast included Stephanie Cole and David Hargreaves. This Autumn finds her at the National as an ensemble member, also understudying John and Michael and the Lost Boy Twins, in the cast of the Bristol Old Vic production of ‘Peter Pan’.
COWARD AND THE ‘IMPOSSIBLE’
Chris Hancock (2011 Award Winner) has been working for a producer for the last nine months and is currently in charge of a magic show called ‘Impossible’, for which he does all the coordination and logistics. This follows what he describes as ‘a fun but manic seven weeks’ at the Noel Coward theatre in the West End. ‘Impossible’ will be going soon to Dubai and then to Singapore.
BRISTOL PS: Katie Moore (2008) and Bethan Nash (2012), who in recent years have both played the same leading role in Tom Morris’s Bristol Old Vic productions of ‘Swallows and Amazons’, featured in a special reprise of that role in the Old Vic’s summer gala show celebrating 400 years of the Theatre Royal.