Musical director turned composer
Cyril Orandel's most remembered contribution to the British
musical is the song 'If I Ruled The World', and - written for
Tin Pan Alley - 'Portrait Of My Love'. Only in the 1960s, after
an already highly successful career as the musical director of
other people's shows, did he really emerge as a composer.
He was born in London on 2 December 1924, and studied at the
Royal College of Music. His interest in theatre music blossomed.
He was accompanist to Dorothy Carless and Max Bacon, and graduated
to musical director of touring revues and pantomime. He fulfilled
the same function for the famous radio comedy series Take It
From Here and subsequently was musical director for many West
End musicals, among them Kiss Me Kate, Call Me Madam, Paint Your
Wagon, Pal Joey, Wonderful Town, Kismet, Plain and Fancy and
My Fair Lady.
His first score was for Star Maker, a Cicely Courtneidge vehicle
that toured but failed to make London in 1956. Two years later
he wrote the music for The Pied Piper, seen for a month at the
Connaught Theatre, Worthing. The show was co-written with David
Croft, who had provided the lyrics for Star Maker. Ornadel's
one unquestionable smash hit came in 1963 with Pickwick at the
Saville Theatre, a substantial success for Harry Secombe. Pickwick
boasted one of the most irritating songs of the time 'If I Ruled
The World', transferred with less success to Broadway, and then
enjoyed popular revival (with an older Secombe) among those who
prefer the Dickens of roaring log fires and cloying sentiment.
In 1963 Ornadel worked again with Croft to provide the score
for an adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel Ann Veronica, but the
production was panned and enjoyed only a short run at the Cambridge
Theatre. The songs were not unattractive, but it was a patchy
do. It was Ornadel's final major musical. For the Mermaid Theatre
he wrote the music for Treasure Island, an adaptation by Bernard
Miles and Josephine Wilson, with lyrics by Hal Shaper, in December
1973, but it seemed the work of a jobbing composer. Of more interest
was another effort to jolly up Dickens, Great Expectations, again
with Hal Shaper as his lyricist. Presented at the Yvonne Arnaud
Theatre, Guildford in December 1975, the show survived a British
tour and then travelled through Canada - a disappointing fate
for a production that had managed to sign up John Mills, Moira
Lister and Joy Nichols.
Ornadel's last score was for Once More, Darling, modestly
billed as 'a farce with music', with a book by Ray Cooney and
John Chapman adapted from their play Not Now, Darling, and with
lyrics by Norman Newell. It was on the road for a few weeks (at
the Churchill Theatre, Bromley and the Theatre Royal, Norwich,
where it closed in July 1978). Ornadel was musical director and
played at one of the two pianos that made up the show's orchestra.
The cast included the now forgotten comedian Norman Vaughan,
Jack Douglas and Lynda Baron. The whole affair seemed a long
way from the relative glory of Pickwick.
Pickwick Original London cast
Ann Veronica Original London cast
Treasure Island Original London cast
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