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
ADRIAN SLADE catches another Julian Slade Award Winner success
“WOULDN’T IT BE LOVERLY IF…..
…the current brilliant production of ‘My Fair Lady’ at the Mill at Sonning, which stars 2012 Julian Slade Award Winner Bethan Nash as Eliza Doolittle, were to be transferred to the West End or went on tour around all the best city theatres in the country!”
It certainly deserves to but sadly it probably won’t because ‘My Fair Lady’ is such a valuable theatrical property that the right to perform it on stage in London is jealously guarded, and even outside London you have to be a very special person to get permission. Luckily Sally Hughes, managing & artistic director of Sonning, is such a person because she so obviously knows what to do with a musical. She did it last year with a very lively, and at times tear-jerking, production of’ ‘High Society’, which also starred Bethan Nash, on that occasion in the Grace Kelly part of Tracy Samantha Lord. Now Sally, her director and choreographer Joseph Pitcher and her musical director Joe Bunker have extracted brilliant performances from the whole cast of ‘My Fair Lady’ and the audiences clearly love every minute of the characterisations they all achieve and the energy with which they all perform their songs and their dances. Bethan’s ultimate transformation from the cockney Eliza to the lady Eliza is a magnificent piece of acting, matched by her singing of all Eliza’s very challenging songs. Martin Fisher, as Professor Higgins, is an ineffably cool and often cruel foil to the poor girl who has enough to do coping with her embarrassing father Alfred Doolittle without also being insulted by Higgins at almost every turn, even after she passes her test as a lady.
Phil Snowden’s portrayal of Doolittle must be the best yet seen on stage or screen. He is so wonderfully, overpoweringly vulgar in his acting, singing and dancing that he and his dancing support brings audiences to their feet, probably every night as they certainly did with ours.
There is not a weak link in this magnificent production and it is a joy to see Shaw’s clever plot and dialogue, Lerner and Loewe’s brilliant adaptation and songs matched from all corners by such intelligently thought through performances, often vigorously executed, by all the other members of a superb cast.
4 **** from Robert Gore-Langton in THE MAIL ON SUNDAY (7.1.2018) “…. despite the huge, rather smothering reputation of the film (starring Rex Harrison and Audrety Hepburn), the musical comes up fresh, even re-invigorated in this pocket production by Joseph Pitcher who both directs and choreographs. This version has only 12 actors and 4 (out off sight) musicians but it gets across the story with pace and panache,………….Bethan Nash is fine-voiced, proud Eliza who is the victim of such gross sexism and domestic abuse (mostly from ‘Martin Fisher’s sprightly young Higgins’) that you wonder why today’s right-on theatre police haven’t banned this show for good……Phil Snowden is a wonderfully feisty geezer as Eliza’s dustman Dad. ” .
MORE ABOUT BETHAN NASH
‘HIGH SOCIETY’ ‘EMMA’ ‘ROBIN HOOD’
Following her considerable critical success in January and February last year in in Cole Porter’s ‘High Society’ at The Mill at Sonning,she played Emma in a new Jane Austen adaptation of ‘Emma’ by Tim Luscombe for The Production Exchange.. The play opened in late May in the Leatherhead Theatre and then toured through June and July at Guildford, Bath, Oxford, Malvern and Cambridge. When the run of ‘My Fair Lady’ at The Mill at Sonning is over, She will then be playing Little Joan aka ‘Little John’ in‘ Robin Hood’ at at The Old Market Theatre in Brighton in an adaptation by New Mutiny, a company she helped to found, ‘
NEWS OF OTHER
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,
PEDRO LEANDRO the 10th (2017) AWARD WINNER
In his own words..….”I joined a boys choir called Les Pastoureaux in Belgium (where I grew up) when I was 9 years old and over the next 9 years , I toured with the choir all around Europe, North and South America. I was also lucky enough to be part of several productions at La Monnaie National Opera House such as Britten’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Massenet’s ‘Werther’ and Giordano’s ‘Fedora’ as a treble soloist.
I only really started acting when I was 16 with the school’s little am-dram theatre company (which was French-speaking). We did ‘Le Diner de Cons’ and ‘La Cage aux Folles’, two French comedy classics of the stage. I loved every second so when I arrived at Edinburgh University in 2012 to study Philosophy for 4 years I acted as much as I could. In term time, I collaborated with Bedlam Theatre and the Edinburgh University Shakespeare Company on many of their productions including ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and ‘King Lear’. I also participated in 3 Edinburgh Fringes, where I acted in ‘Hamlet’ (as Polonius) as well as some new plays. At the Fringe, I also performed as part of Edinburgh University’s improv troupe, The Improverts, did a whole lot of stand-up and wrote and performed my first short play Something’s Happened.
Since coming to Bristol, my text projects have included “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ where I played George and ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ where I played Bertram. I also hadn’t been singing much for the past few years so coming to Bristol and working with Pam Rudge (BOVTS Musical director) has been an amazing way to reconnect with my singing and I’m really thrilled to see how it evolves next year.’ He has recently been playing The Scarecrow in the School’s Christmas production of ‘The Wizard of Oz.”. He comments on his recent experience:
” ‘The ‘Wizard of Oz’ was wonderful. We were all so proud of the show and it made the 27 show run fly by. Audiences seemed to really enjoy it and we got lots of positive feedback. So that’s nice! This term, we shall be doing ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ at Circomedia. My parts are very small: I am Lord Orlando Pope and the Pedant. It promises to be a beautiful show and a real passion project of Bill Alexander’s, our director.”.
MORE AWARD WINNER NEWS
‘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. ‘Katie will soon be touring UK theatres for six months playing a leading role in a play with music by Sting, called ‘The Last Ship’.
THE SHAKESPEARE REVIEW
Alex Morgan (2009 Award Winner). Whenever ‘The Shakespeare Revue’ tours (and it is very popular so it often does) Alex is likely to be seen iplaying a number of different roles. He has just returned from another run, this time in Theatr Clwd. In November and December was in Geneva playing Bob Cratchit in Simply Theatre Productions’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. When not working in theatre Alex teaches French and Spanish and is currently the French and Spanish male voice over on GCSEPod’s French and Spanish GCSE Podcasts.
MUCH ADO AROUND SCOTLAND
Ali Watt (2010 Award Winner) During the last three years Ali has played many roles in Scotland, at the Pitlochry Festival and on tour at other theatres. Early this year he played Don John in the Dundee Repertory production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. More recently he has been featured in two shows for Firebrand in the Borders (‘The Great Train Race’ and David Grieg’s ’Letter of Last Resort‘) and a musical at Oran Mor called ‘Brigadoom’, in which he played Alan Jay Lerner. He is now back in Pitlochry in an adaptation of Compton Mackenzie’s ‘The Monarch of The Glen’.
MANAGING THE ‘IMPOSSIBLE’
Chris Hancock (2011 Award Winner) For the last year Chris has been working for a producer 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’ has recently been playing in Dubai. Most recently Chris has taken the show to Manila for a Christmas season, to be followed by a further run in Singapore..
’MURDER FOR TWO’ TO ‘SWANS0NG’ AND ‘THE BORROWERS’
Ed MacArthur (2013 Award Winner) Early in 2017 starred in ‘Murder for Two’, a highly successful comedy musical whodunnit that transferred from the Water Mill at Newbury to London for a further five week run at the St James Theatre..In the Autumn versatile Ed was on tour with his own production company ‘DugOut’ and one 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. He then returned to the Water Mill in Newbury to join the cast of ‘The Borrowers’ for a Christmas season. He is expecting to return to Newbury for another production within the next few months
‘WHO CARES?’ AND ‘ROBIN HOOD’
Jessica Temple (2014 Award Winner), was back in Bristol at the Old Vic in 2016 in a innovative production of ‘Medea’ for which she and 2015 Award Winner EleanorJackson were part of the all female cast of four who,. aided by co-composer Jon Nicholls, wrote special songs and music. In 2015 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’ in which she also understudied John and Michael and the Lost Boy Twins.Her most recent work has been been in ‘Who Cares?’ at The Lowry/Lung Theatre in Manchester. Soon she will be starting rehearsals for ‘Robin Hood‘ with fellow award winner Bethan Nash.
‘THE CHERRY ORCHARD’
Verity Blyth (2016 Award Winner) graduated from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the Summer of 2017. Before leaving she was one of two Theatre School students awarded the Peter O’Toole Acting prize which gives each winner an opportunity to play a key role in a mainstream production at the Bristol Old Vic. She will soon be in rehearsal for the part of Anya in ‘The Cherry Orchard’ which will openi early in 2018. The run will be followed by a further run at the Manchester Royal Exchange. Last Autumn her remarkable singing voice was delighting Sondheim Society and Phoenix Artists Club audiences in London.
Joining the 2017 Award Winner Pedro Leandro, last October Verity Blyth, Katie Moore, Alex Morgan, Bethan Nash, Jessica Temple and Eleanor Jackson returned to Bristol to take the part in the very well received, one night only, “Celebration of the Music of Julian Slade.’ at the Redgrave Theatre in Bristol. The show, in aid of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, was celebrating 10 years of the Julian Slade Award for Musical Talent.
Click on The Julian Slade Award for other details of all Award Winners and Latest News for BRISTOL’S EVENING OF JULIAN SLADE TRIUMPH.