Half A Sixpence
Half A Sixpence – Noel Coward Theatre
Half A Sixpence is one of those musicals that I had always heard about but for one reason or another never seen on stage. Then I heard that Stiles & Drewe had given it a makeover….well rewrite and the reviews were glowing. I finally managed to see it for myself and I have to say I’m so glad I saw it before it closes.
In this new version the show opens with Kipps and Ann as children, playing and Kipps gives Ann a token to remember him by when he goes away to work to become an apprentice. This token is of course is half of a Sixpence, with Kipps keeping the other half. Years go by and whilst Kipps is at work he is invited to a woodwork class by one of the client’s, a Helen Walsingham. Kipps is quickly dazzled by her. On his way home Kipps comes across Chitterlow who has the news that Kipps has inherited a fortune. The Walsingham family soon get wind of this good news and Kipps proposes to Helen. Their fledgling romance however struggles when they realise that their different backgrounds may be more of a hurdle to overcome than they had thought.
The new version of the show is an absolute joy from beginning to end. The previous version struggled with the fact that there was only one big number ‘Flash, Bang Whallop.’ The rewritten version solves this issue by inserting into the show ‘Pick out a Simple Tune’ as well as the visually stunning ‘If the Rain’s Got To Fall.’ The big production numbers were the highlight of the show. The choreography by Andrew Wright was highly energetic with Kipps’ dance (and gymnastic) ability really utilised. If The Rain’s Got To Fall’ was beautifully stylish with the use of various sports equipment in it forming memorable tableaus.
Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps has been highly applauded for this role and after watching his performance I completely understand why! He completely shines as Kipp’s with a cheeky grin, impressive dance skills and a capable banjo player. You warm to him instantly are you begin to root for him right from the opening number.
The supporting cast in Half A Sixpence are equally as impressive however. Devon-Else Johnson as Ann is feisty and likeable with a beautiful voice and Emma Williams is every part the upper class Helen Walsingham. Despite her trying to change Kipps it is Helen who you do feel for in the piece as she plays the part with innocence and an underlying moral compass. It does however seem unfair to single out the above as all of the cast gave such a huge amount of character and energy, making the ensemble numbers ones to remember.
The design of Half A Sixpence was also beautifully done with different colours of costumes depending on the number and the class of the character. The set on the revolve, whilst keeping it looking simple meant that not only the scenes could flow into each other with ease also added an extra dynamic for the choreography in some of the numbers.
Half A Sixpence is a visually stunning and energetic show that both lovers of newer musicals and the more traditional musical can appreciate. A walloping great success.
Half A Sixpence is running until the beginning of September so you only have a few months left to make sure you don’t miss out. Find out more about tickets on their website.
If you liked my review of Half A Sixpence you may also like to read my interview with some of the cast.