Julian Slade was born in 1930 and studied at Cambridge University where he began his career as a writer and composer. He wrote his first two musicals, BANG GOES THE MERINGUE and LADY MAY, while at the university. Both were performed at the ADC, where he also acted in a number of productions.
He joined the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School as a student in 1951 and was a member of the theatre company and its resident musical director and composer from 1952-54. During this period he composed a number of scores for existing works including THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, which became one of the first musicals to be televised by the BBC, and Sheridan’s THE DUENNA, which opened in London to critical acclaim in 1954.
It was also during this period that Slade co-authored and composed the musical SALAD DAYS with fellow actor, Dorothy Reynolds, which was initially staged at Bristol before a triumphant transfer to London’s West End in 1954. The musical would eventually become the longest-running show of the decade. After success with SALAD DAYS Slade and Reynolds collaborated on further shows, including FREE AS AIR (Savoy Theatre, 1957) which ran
for over a year.
His other collaborations include a musical adaptation of Thackeray’s classic novel VANITY FAIR (1962) with Robin Miller and Alan Pryce-Jones; THE PURSUIT OF LOVE in close consultation with Nancy Mitford (Bristol, 1967) and TRELAWNY with Aubrey Woods and George Rowell, adapted from Pinero’s play TRELAWNY OF THE WELLS, which was produced by Cameron Mackintosh in London’s West End, 1972.
Other works include FOLLOW THAT GIRL (West End, 1960); WILDEST DREAMS (West End, 1961); WINNIE THE POOH (Phoenix Theatre, 1971); CHRISTMAS IN KING ST (Theatre Royal Bristol, 1952); THE MERRY GENTLEMAN (Bristol, 1953); HOORAY FOR DAISY (Bristol, 1959); OUT OF BOUNDS, an adaptation of Pinero’s ‘The Schoolmistress’ (Bristol, 1974); a musical adaptation of ‘The Knight of the Burning Pestle’ entitled NUTMEG AND GINGER (Cheltenham Everyman, 1963) and NOW WE ARE SIXTY with Gyles Brandreth (Cheltenham Everyman, 1986).
In his later years Julian was frequently to be seen and heard in cabaret, performing his work for charity with a small team of fellow actors. He finally bowed out of the theatre in 2004 when, in his honour, Sir Cameron Mackintosh staged ‘The Time of my Life’, a spectacular show of his works at Bristol’s Theatre Royal. This show celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of SALAD DAYS. Julian was also a sharp caricaturist and his original caricatures are on display both at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and at the ADC Theatre as part of Cambridge University.
Julian Slade died in 2006.
For more information, please visit www.julianslade.com