With all the worry in the world, Salad Days is absolutely the perfect escape, says Wendi Peters.
Wendi, known to millions for her four years in Coronation Street, is on the road, promising huge fun in one of our sunniest musicals (Theatre Royal, Brighton, September 5-8).
Written in 1952 as a summer musical for the Bristol Old Vic, Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds’ show is a romp of polite naughtiness and saucy encounters, with an energetic score. After Bristol, Salad Days transferred to the Vaudeville where it ran for 2,283 performances.
Salad Days is a phrase first coined in Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, referring to Anthony’s youth; the show tells the lighthearted tale of recent graduates Timothy and Jane. Unhappy with their pushy parents, they decide to get jobs and take on the responsibility of looking after a piano in a park. Little are they prepared to deal with the magic and madness that follow…
“It is such a great show to bring out now,” Wendi says. “You can forget about absolutely everything.”
As Wendi says, the gist is that Timothy and Jane take on a piano, lose a piano and then find a piano, and you have even got a spaceman coming down on a flying saucer.: “Really it is just absolute nonsense!”
What more could you possibly ask for?
“It was written just after the war. Rationing was still in place, and I suspect it was simply a reaction to those times. Timothy and Jane have just graduated from university and are going out into the world. He needs a job and she needs a husband, and they end up looking after this piano.
“I play Jane’s mother. She is desperate to get Jane married off to the man with the best possible connections. She is throwing a party to launch her. She just wants Jane to marry well. It is just an absolute joy. I first saw a production when I was nine. My godmother was in it. It was an amateur production up in Lancashire, and it was one of the first times I had been to the theatre to see a musical. And I just fell in love with it. It became a running gag in our family that we were always singing songs from it. There was a TV version from the 1980s that we just watched over and over again on video, but nobody can get hold of a copy of it now. And when the chance to do this now came up, I just leapt at it.
“When I left drama school, I worked in theatre for a good ten years, and a few bits of television started to come up and then I was lucky enough to be in Corrie for four years. But really I left Corrie because I wanted to be back doing all these different things that I wanted to do. I just love the theatre.”