Book and Lyrics by Dorothy Reynolds and Julian Slade
Music by Julian Slade
Produced at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, August 5, 1954 (2283 perfs)
Barbizon Plaza, New York - November 10, 1958 (80 perfs)
SALAD DAYS started its life in June 1954 at the Theatre Royal, Bristol.
Dorothy Reynolds and I had been commissioned to write an end-of-season
summer show for the Bristol Old Vic Company and it was scheduled to
run just three weeks. But Fate - and a London Management - intervened.
On August 5th. 1954 we opened with the same production at the Vaudeville
Theatre, London, and stayed there for five and a half years, becoming
(for then) the longest running musical in the history of the British
It has been playing somewhere in the world ever since.
Newly acquired BA gowns hang heavy on the shoulders of Jane and Timothy. Having got this far, what on earth do they do next? They could get married, of course (so they do), but how can they make a living? In a London park one breathlessly warm summer day they encounter a tramp who trundles round a mobile mini-piano. Even tramps need a holiday now and then, and he invites the young graduates to look after his business interests for a month at £7 per week plus whatever they can collect. The piano is not just any old mobile mini; those who hear it find themselves dancing, even against their better judgment. On this gentle thread of story is strung a series of revue-type scenes providing rich opportunities for versatile comedy players who can also sing and dance.
The story of Salad Days begins in the precincts of a University, where a Tramp is trying out a new melody on a battered old street piano. (Opening Music), His musings are soon interrupted by the arrival of a gaggle of Dons who have come to bid farewell to two departing graduates, Jane and Timothy. (The Things That Are Done By a Done). The young couple are sad to leave the University, but determined to face uptothe future. (We Said We Wouldn't Look Back). Their future, however, is uncertain, as both are being harassed by their parents, she to find a suitable husband, he a suitable job, following in the footsteps of one of his influential uncles. His troubles usually begin at breakfast. (Find Yourself Something To Do).
The pair arrange to meet in a London park. As usual, Jane is on time, Timothy is not. (I Sit In the Sun). They discuss their future and decide it would simplify life to marry each other and take the first job that comes along. This proves easy, for the Tramp arrives wheeling the old piano, and offers them seven pounds a week to look after it for a month. On hearing the Tramp play it, they discover to their amazement that the piano produces in them an irresistable urge to dance. (Oh, Look at Me!).
Timothy temporarily appeases his parents by going to the Foreign Office to see his Uncle Clam (Hush-Hush), but he is soon back in the park with Jane and the piano (now christened 'Minnie'), eager to discover if it will make everyone else dance too. Indeed it does - from street urchins to policemen to Bishops! (Oh, Look at Me: Reprise). It is not long before the park is full of people exhausted from dancing to Minnie's tune. (Out of Breath).
An admirer of Jane's, Nigel, not knowing that she is now secretly married, invites her to a night-club called 'The Cleopatra' where they witness a somewhat unusual cabaret (Cleopatra and Sand In My Eyes). On leaving the club they meet up with Tim, and he and Jane persuade a reluctant Nigel to try out his singing voice. (It's Easy To Sing)
News of the piano's irregular activities reaches the ears of the fun-hating Minister of Pleasure and Pastime who threatens to suppress it. Tim and Jane decide to hide Minnie, but find to their dismay she is really lost. (We're Looking For a Piano).
Jane meets the Tramp again, who does not seem at all perturbed by the disappearance of the piano, and she is able to relax for a while to enjoy the summer and sunshine. (The Time of My Life). She and Timothy receive unexpected help in their search from Tim's Uncle Zed, a zany scientist who conveniently descends in his flying saucer and whisks them off for a bird's-eye view... (The Saucer Song).
Meanwhile their anxious mothers lament that they never know what their children are up to. (We Don't Understand Our Children).
The piano is found, but the month of guardianship is over, and Minnie must be handed on to the next young couple - Nigel and his newly found girl-friend Fiona. Nigel finds, to his surprised delight, he can play as well as sing. (Oh, Look at Me: Reprise).
It is hard for Tim and Jane to see the piano go, but, having each other, they are hopeful of a future as happy as the past. (We Said We Wouldn't Look Back: Reprise).
- Julian Slade, London 1982
For the chorus
Originally, nothing! The production which ran for 2,283 record-breaking performances at the Vaudeville had a cast of twelve, plus a pianist, who between them played fifty-five roles of assorted lengths-the star of one scene being required, perhaps, to do no more than walk on in the next. Needless to say, there is every opportunity for an imaginative producer to use a much larger cast.
(showing the original doubling)
- Jane. Timothy's mother/Heloise/Asphynxia.
- Lady Raeburn/a cabaret dancer/Marguerite.
- Fiona/ a beauty-parlour assistant/a shopgirl.
- Aunt Prue/a manicurist/Rowena.
- Timothy. Troppo, a mute.
- The tramp/a bishop/a photographer.
- Timothy's father/a Police Inspector/the Minister of Pleasure and Pastime/Ambrose.
- Uncle Clamsby/a night-club manager/Uncle Zed.
- Fosdyke/Nigel. P.C. Boot/Electrode.
A park backcloth or drapes can be used throughout. Other scenes are represented with simple cut-outs, insets or drop cloths, or played in front of running tabs.
The University grounds.
The breakfast-room at Timothy's home.
A London park.
A beauty parlour.
A room at the Foreign Office.
An office in Scotland Yard
A night club.
A park café terrace.
A dress shop.
A flying saucer
- The Things That Are Done By A Don - Company
- We Said We Wouldn't Look Back - Jane and Timothy
- Find YOurself Something To Do - Timothy's Father, Mother & Aunt Prue
- I Sit In the Sun - Jane
- Oh, Look At Me! - Jane & Timothy
- Hush-Hush - Uncle Clam, Fosdyke & Timothy
- Out Of Breath - Company
- Cleopatra - The Manager
- Sand In My Eyes - Asphynxia
- It's Easy To Sing - Jane, Timothy & Nigel
- We're Looking For a Piano - Company
- The Time Of My Life - Jane & the Tramp
- The Saucer Song - Uncle Zed, Jane & Timothy
- We Don't Understand Our Children - Jane's Mother & Timothy's Mother
There is no special arrangement for two pianos. For productions accompanied in this way, both pianists should play from the published piano/vocal score, the second using it as the basis for improvisation to give added depth and colour. Scores for Double Bass and Drums are available on hire.