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 REPRESENTS 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 delighted 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 now working 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.
VERITY BLYtH. THE 2016 WINNER OF TH 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’. 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’ .
The Latest News from the Julian Slade Award Winners
ADRIAN SLADE writes: ‘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 will be to see Ed MacArthur (2013) in a murder comedy called ‘Murder for Two’ at the Water Mill, Newbury in February.
Here’s to 2017!
‘THE SHAKESPEARE REVUE’
Alex Morgan (2009 Award Winner),toured 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, most recently, Richmond (Theatre). Both productions are by Kenny Wax. The two shows have 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.
Katie Moore (2008 Award Winner) has been 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 is directed by Peter Mille. It tells the story of a hair-dresser called Sheppey who wins the lottery, defies the pressures of his wife, family and employer and throws them all into chaos. Katie is playing two roles – the manicurist Miss Grange, a well put together woman who knows her own mind, and Florrie, Sheppey’s daughter whose absolute priority is her fiancee Ernie. She believes in marrying beneath herself and so is deperately trying to be good enough for him
Bethan Nash (2012 Award Winner) is playing the lead part of Tracy Samantha Lord in Cole Porter’s ‘High Society’ at The Mill at Sonning, She follows in the steps of Grace Kelly who played the same part in the 1950s film of the show, opposite Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. The show which runs from November 24 and runs until January 14 2017, is directed by Joseph Pitcher who trained at the Bristol Old Vic and includes another former BOV member of the cast,Sandy Bacherler. Bethan also featured in the November 19 2016 episode of ‘Casualty’ on BBC 1.
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 starred
Timothy West as Lear. The 2016 Christmas season 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’.
THREE MUSICALS AND A MURDER
Ed MacArthur (2013 Award Winner) was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe each day in August appearing in ‘Stack’ his own, what he described as, ‘ a 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 pedal. Ed has recently been featuring in another two man production ‘Murder for Two’ a musical/piano whodunnit at The Water Mill Newbury.
PS for Ed MacArthur from Adrian Slade
VIRTUOSO VERSATILITY IN NEWBURY (AND NOW 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.