First presented at Chichester’s Festival Theatre, last summer’s hit “HALF A SIXPENCE” will play its final performance in London on Saturday 2 September, having extended its limited season twice. Acclaimed by audiences and critics as a dazzling reinvention of the original musical and winning plaudits for both production and cast, the role of Arthur Kipps, which made Tommy Steele a star 54 years ago, has now well and truly launched the career of newcomer Charlie Stemp with his sensational award-winning performance. When the show ends its run at the Noël Coward Theatre it will be the longest running West End transfer from the Chichester Festival Theatre since “Singin’ in the Rain”.
Producer Cameron Mackintosh says: “I’m delighted that this new “Half A Sixpence” has been greeted so rapturously by audiences and critics and discovered a new star in Charlie Stemp. It is most gratifying that this long neglected David Heneker and Beverley Cross musical, brilliantly re-written by Julian Fellowes, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, now has a new lease of life with interest for several other productions in discussion.”
“HALF A SIXPENCE” stars Charlie Stemp as ‘Arthur Kipps’, Devon-Elise Johnson as ‘Ann Pornick’,Ian Bartholomew as ‘Chitterlow’ and Emma Williams as ‘Helen Walsingham’. Earlier this year, the show won three WhatsOnStage Awards for Charlie Stemp as Best Actor in a Musical, Emma Williams for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and Andrew Wright for Best Choreography.
This new stage version of “HALF A SIXPENCE”, the musical adaptation of H.G. Wells’s semi- autobiographical novel ‘Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul’, is a completely fresh adaptation which reunites book-writer Julian Fellowes (Oscar-winning screenwriter and creator of Downton Abbey) with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the musical team that co-creator Cameron Mackintosh first put together to create the hit stage adaptation of “Mary Poppins” with Disney. The score is inspired by and features several of composer David Heneker’s exhilarating songs from the original production, including ‘Flash Bang Wallop’, ‘Money To Burn’ and ‘Half A Sixpence’.
Arthur Kipps, an orphan and over-worked draper’s assistant at the turn of the last century, unexpectedly inherits a fortune that propels him into high society. His childhood companion, Ann Pornick, watches with dismay as Arthur is made over in a new image by the beautiful and classy Helen Walsingham. Both young women undoubtedly love Arthur – but which of them should he listen to? With the help of his friends, Arthur learns that if you want to have the chance of living the right life, you need to make the right choices.
“HALF A SIXPENCE” is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh who recently directed The Wind in the Willows, as well as the Olivier nominated Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Open Air Theatre. The production is designed by Paul Brown, with choreography by Andrew Wright (Chichester/West End production of Guys and Dolls, the UK Tour of Barnum and Moby Dick at the Union Theatre) with orchestrations by William David Brohn. The musical supervisors are Stephen Brooker and Graham Hurman, who also conducts; with lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter and video design by Luke Halls. The original 1963 musical was written by Beverley Cross and David Heneker.