Salad Days is a musical with music by Julian Slade and lyrics by Dorothy Reynolds and Julian Slade. It premiered at the Bristol Old Vic in 1954, and transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre in London on August 5 of that year, running for 2,283 performances to become the longest-running show in British musical theatre until overtaken by Oliver!.
A Canadian production was put together by Barry Morse and Bill Freedman in 1958, which played quite successfully in Toronto and Montreal. This production was partly recast and brought to Broadway with much fanfare in 1959, where it flopped badly; America just didn't seem to "get it".
The musical's enduring popularity lay in its light-hearted innocence and apparent simplicity, in sharp contrast to the many "hard-nosed" American musicals of the era, and its bright score including the songs "We said we wouldn't look back", "I sit in the Sun", and "We're looking for a piano".
The title is taken from William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra: "My salad days, When I was green in judgement, cold in blood, To say as I said then!", and the phrase is now used to refer to ones days of youthful inexperience.
Jane (originally played by Eleanor Drew) and Timothy Dawes (originally played by John Warner), meet up in a park to plan their lives soon after their graduation. Deciding that Timothy must take the first job he's offered, a passing tramp offers them £7 a week to look after his mobile piano. Upon accepting, they discover that when the piano plays it delivers all within earshot an irresistible desire to dance! After attempts to ban the music by the Ministry of Pleasure and Pastimes, the piano vanishes, and Timothy enlists his Uncle Zed to take them in his flying saucer to retrieve it.
The musical was parodied, in a particularly bloody manner, by Monty Python in their skit Sam Peckinpah's "Salad Days".