FREE AS AIR Begin 5 October at Finborough Theatre
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the world premiere of Salad Days, and as part of the Finborough Theatre acclaimed Celebrating British Music Theatre series, Stewart Nicholls directs the first professional UK revival in over 50 years of Julian Slade's musical Free As Air, playing Sunday and Monday evening and Tuesday matinee performances from Sunday, 5 October 2014 (Press Night: Monday, 6 October 2014 at 7.30pm)
Among the Channel Islands, tucked away out of sight, lies the tiny island of Terhou, a treasure as yet undiscovered by the tourist trade. In this remote paradise, the happy population sings all day long, arising early to prepare for their annual Independence Day Celebration. They soon discover there is no young lady to be crowned May Queen in their Coronation Ceremony, as all the young women have played the part before.
As luck would have it, along with the boat returning from the monthly trip to gather supplies arrives a beautiful stranger - Geraldine. Yet close behind follows the love-struck Jack Amersham and the mischievous Ivy Crush, the press reporter charged with shadowing her...
Will the islanders find their May Queen, or will the peace of Terhou be disrupted forever?
A charming classic British musical, Free as Air enjoyed a run of over 400 performances at the Savoy Theatre in 1957, starring Gerald Harper, Gillian Lewis and Patricia Bredin. It now receives its first professional UK revival in more than fifty years.
Composer Julian Slade (1930-2006) was also a librettist and lyricist, best known for the record-breaking musical Salad Days (1954), the longest running UK musical of the 1950s with 2,288 performances - a record at the time. It was in London that a young Cameron Mackintosh saw Salad Days with his aunt and decided to become a theatrical producer. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, Slade then joined the Bristol Old Vic, where he eventually became Musical Director, writing incidental music and co-writing two Christmas musicals, eventually culminating in the writing of Salad Days. His many other musicals include Follow That Girl! (1960), revived at the Theatre Museum by Stewart Nicholls in 2000, Hooray for Daisy (1960), Wildest Dreams (1961), adapting Winnie the Pooh at the Phoenix Theatre (1970), Trelawny (1972) with music in collaboration with Aubrey Woods and George Rowell, Out Of Bounds (1973) and Nancy Mitford's novel Love in a Cold Climate (1997).
Librettist, lyricist and actress Dorothy Reynolds (1913-1977) was best known for her collaboration with Julian Slade, writing a number of musicals together including Salad Days (1954), Free as Air (1957), Follow That Girl! (1960), Hooray for Daisy (1960) and Wildest Dreams (1961). Her screen appearances as an actress incl ude Peter Ustinov's Lady L (1965), Richard Attenborough's Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) and Alan Bennett's A Day Out (1972).
Director Stewart Nicholls returns to the Finborough Theatre where he directed Ivor Novello's musical Gay's The Word, which subsequently transferred for a further successful run at the Jermyn Street Theatre and was recorded for CD. Productions Stewart has directed and choreographed include Salad Days and The Biograph Girl (London College of Music), Dorothy Squires: Mrs. Roger Moore (Edinburgh Festival), Lunch With Marlene starring Kate O'Mara (National Tour), Hetty Feinstein's Wedding Anniversary (New End Theatre, Hampstead), Beatlemania (Gothenburg Opera House), South Pacific starring Alan Opie, Maria Ewing and Les Dennis (Birmingham Symphony Hall for BBC Radio Two), Over My Shoulder (National Tour and Wyndham's Theatre), Carousel (St David's Hall, Cardiff, for BBC Radio Three), the première of Charles Hart's Love Songs (Bridewell Theatre) and five pantomimes for the Hall For Cornwall, Truro. Workshops include Merman's Apprentice starring Kim Criswell. Choreography includes Iolanthe, Princess Ida and The Mikado (Buxton Opera House and National Tour), Cowardy Custard starring Kit and the Widow and Dillie Keen (National Tour), Noël and Gertie (Cockpit Theatre) and Tim Rice's revival of Blondel (Pleasance London). Stewart is the leading archivist of British Musical Theatre, directing, choreographing and restoring many forgotten musicals by major British writers including Noël Coward's Sail Away (his restored version is published by Warner/Chappell Music). He produced CDs of many of these productions including The Amazons, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. www.stewartnicholls.co.uk
Producer Aria Entertainment is run by Katy Lipson, whose productions include Marry Me A Little (St James Studio), The Return Of The Soldier (Jermyn Street Theatre), The Mystery Of Edwin Drood (Arts Theatre), The Secret Garden (National Tour) as well as the From Page To Stage season of new musicals.