GETTING TO KNOW HIM RAZZLE DAZZLE TRACK BY TRACK SHOW PEOPLE

 

GETTING TO KNOW HIM

Mainly known for his score for HALF A SIXPENCE, a big success in London that was imported to Broadway and later became a movie, David Heneker is one of those composers whose work is hardly heard on the stage today, but he was the first British composer to have two musicals, HALF A SIXPENCE and IRMA LA DOUCE, running for more than 500 performances on Broadway

He was born in Southsea, England in 1906 and pass way in 2001. He was a brigadier in the regular army when he found success as a popular songwriter (Gracie Fields’ "The Thingummy Bob That's Going to Win the War" and Vera Lynn’s "There's a New World"), so he decided to leave the army and took a job as a club pianist.

He began writing material for several revues and one day, together with Julian More and Monty Norman, he wrote the score for EXPRESSO BONGO, considered by many as “the most important and original British

Monty Norman & David Heneker

musical of its time”. The same team followed that hit with the English adaptation of the French musical IRMA LA DOUCE and had another big hit in their hands; that show won the Evening Standard Award as the year's best musical. Two years later it opened on Broadway where it also succeeded.

In 1959 he and Norman got a third success with MAKE ME AN OFFER. Later Heneker decided to go solo with a musical adaptation of H. G. Wells’ “Kipps” that opened in 1963. The show was called HALF A SIXPENCE, became his most famous hit and gave Heneker the the Ivor Novello Award. The show was transferred to Broadway, where it ran for 511 performances and was nominated for 9 Tonys, including Best Musical and Best Composer and Lyricist.

In 1965 Heneker strike gold again with CHARLIE GIRL, the he wrote with John Taylor, which ran for 5 years in the West End.

Three news shows followed JORROCKS in 1968 (many people say this is his best score),PHIL THE FLUTER in 1969 and POPKISS in 1972, unfortunately, none were successful and so Heneker disappeared for a while. After an eight years absence he returned in 1980 with the enjoyable THE BIOGRAPH GIRL (about the golden days of the silent movies) that didn’t ran long, and in 1984, at the age of 78, he wrote his last score, PEG, which also flopped.

Although some of his shows aren’t available on CD (let’s hope that some day they will), the ones that are, reveal a highly interesting composer, who wrote beautiful melodies and exciting show tunes in a kind of traditional Broadway vein.

If you never heard the likes of CHARLIE GIRL, PEG and specially THE BIOGRAPH GIRL you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

by Jorge T. Santos (5th April, 2008)

Bibliography used for this site: “The Virgin Encyclopedia of Stage & Film Musicals” by Colin Larkin; “The Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre” by Kurt Gänzl; an article on The Independent by Tom Vallance; plus the Internet sites: The Guide to Musical Theatre and Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia

 

LIFE UPON THE WICKED STAGE

THE SHOWS

1958 - EXPRESSO BONGO - with Monty Norman (music & lyrics) and Julian More (lyrics)

1958 - IRMA LA DOUCE - English lyrics with Julian More & Monty Norman, music by Marguerite Monnot

1959 - MAKE ME AN OFFER - with Monty Norman (music & lyrics)

1963 - HALF A SIXPENCE

1965 - CHARLIE GIRL - with John Taylor (music & lyrics)

1966 - JORROCKS - with John Taylor (lyrics)

1969 - PHIL THE FLUTER - with Percy French (music and lyrics)

1971 - THE AMAZONS - music by John Addison

1972 - POPKISS - with John Addison (music) and Michael Ashton (lyrics)

1980 - THE BIOGRAPH GIRL - with Warner Brown (lyrics)

1984 - PEG

MOVIES AND TELEVISION

1960 - THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL - with Monty Norman (movie)

1984 - TOTTIE: THE STORY OF A DOLLS' HOUSE (tv series)

1967 - I'VE GOTTA HORSE (movie)

 

GETTING TO KNOW HIM RAZZLE DAZZLE TRACK BY TRACK SHOW PEOPLE