Composer-lyricist David Heneker (1906-2001) remains best known today for his joyful score to the 1963 West End musical Half a Sixpence which transferred to Broadway in 1965, yielded a 1967 film version, and inspired a 2016 London revival. But Heneker wrote numerous other musicals with equally tuneful scores including Charlie Girl (1965), Phil the Fluter (1969), and Jorrocks (1966). Now, the latter is coming to CD from Stage Door Records with an expanded release of its 1966 London Studio Cast Recording. It wasn’t uncommon for musicals of the era to see multiple recordings from various labels. Jorrocks was no exception. While the EMI label His Master’s Voice (HMV) issued the Original London Cast Recording in 1966, the scrappy indie label Saga Records released the high-quality studio version now being reissued by Stage Door. Saga is recognized today as the first major U.K. label to break the majors’ stronghold with a line of budget releases available at usual record outlets, leading the likes of Decca and Pye to play catch-up in introducing their own budget lines. Over the years, Saga recorded studio cast albums of such musicals as My Fair Lady, Sweet Charity, Half a Sixpence, and Godspell.
Jorrocks, with a book by Heneker’s Half a Sixpence collaborator Beverley Cross, was based upon the series of novels by R.S. Surtees concerning an amusingly vulgar cockney grocer and huntsman whose wife schemes to foil his pursuits of becoming “The Happiest Man Alive.” With Joss Ackland as Jorrocks, Thelma Ruby as Mrs. Jorrocks, and Cheryl Kennedy as his niece Belinda, the production opened at London’s New Theatre on September 22, 1966 and ran for 181 performances. (In 1973, the New was renamed the Albery Theatre, and in 2006 it was rechristened for Noel Coward. Until COVID-19 hit, it was the home of Dear Evan Hansen.) The original London cast of Jorrocks is as yet unavailable on CD or digital formats.
Saga Records’ top-drawer 1966 studio cast album featured Barry Kent as Jorrocks, Rita Williams as his wife, Pat Whitmore as Belinda, Charles Young as Charlie Stobbs, Charles Granville as Captain Doleful, and Andy Cole as Dr. Swizzle with chorus vocals from The Rita Williams Singers and accompaniment by The Brian Fahey Orchestra. Stage Door’s reissue has been remastered from the original Saga master tapes, and has reinstated the show’s overture, cut from the original LP release. An entire second album is also included on the CD of David Heneker’s demo recordings, courtesy of the Heneker Estate and boasting songs cut from the original production. The late songwriter’s archivist Stewart Nicholls has contributed new liner notes for the release. (Back in 2017, Stage Door premiered Heneker’s demos for Half a Sixpence on CD.) One additional bonus track further sweetens the pot: original star Cheryl Kennedy’s duet with Barry Kent on “You Can Depend on Me” as originally broadcast on radio.
The London Studio Cast Recording of Jorrocks has been licensed from the Saga tape collection at the British Library and is limited to just 500 units. The official release date is December 11, but pre-orders made directly from Stage Door typically arrive much earlier. You’ll find the track listing and pre-order links below!
- Overture – The Brian Fahey Orchestra
- Ask Mr. Jorrocks – The Rita Williams Singers
- Belinda – The Rita Williams Singers
- The Happiest Man Alive – Barry Kent and The Rita Williams Singers
- Toasts of the Town – Rita Williams, Charles Granville, and Andy Cole
- I Don’t Want to Say Goodnight – Pat Whitmore and Charles Young
- The Hounds of John Jorrocks – Barry Kent and The Rita Williams Singers
- Love Your Neighbour – Barry Kent and The Rita Williams Singers
- A Little Bit Indiwidual – Barry Kent
- You Can Depend on Me – Pat Whitmore and Barry Kent
- I Well Recall the Day – Rita Williams
- I Don’t Want to Behave Like a Lady – Pat Whitmore
- Jorrocks – Barry Kent and The Rita Williams Singers
- Drink the Waters
- Good for the Spa
- The Luckiest Man Alive
- Midsummer Fox
- I Don’t Talk Much
- The Hounds of John Jorrocks
- Where You Are
- Good for the Spa (Reprise)
- A Little Bit Indiwidual
- I Don’t Talk Much (Reprise)
- You Can Depend on Me (Radio Broadcast) – Barry Kent and Cheryl Kennedy