|Half a Sixpence|
December 15th - December 18th 2010
The 37th Show produced by Stage-Door and the third show of 2010.
It is based on H.G. Wells's novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul. Steele plays Arthur Kipps, an orphan who unexpectedly inherits a fortune, and climbs the social ladder before losing everything and realizing that you just can't buy happiness.
David Heneker (who had also worked on Irma La Douce and Charlie Girl) wrote both music and lyrics. Steele's importance to the show was made evident by his appearance in twelve of the musical's fifteen songs. Much of this musical seems to be tailored as a star vehicle for Steele's particular talents. This seems especially evident in the musical number "Money to Burn": when Arthur Kipps realizes that he is about to become wealthy, he decides that the first thing he will buy is a banjo. This is the cue for someone to hand Tommy Steele a banjo so that he can demonstrate his skill on the instrument. However, in Wells's novel, one of the first things that Arthur Kipps purchases with his newfound wealth is, indeed, a banjo.
Half a Sixpence transferred to Broadway in 1965, playing at the Broadhurst Theatre for 511 performances. This production also starred Steele. John Cleese played the small but crucial role of Walsingham, the stockbroker from a respectable family who embezzles Kipps' fortune. Half a Sixpence was the last West End show to transfer successfully to New York before the late 1970s and early 1980s musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
A 1967 film adaptation starring Steele was directed by George Sidney and choreographed by Gillian Lynne. Lesley Judd, a future presenter of the BBC children's TV series Blue Peter, was one of the dancing chorus.
A message from the DirectorEdit
Thank you for joining us here today for the first production in the south of the NEW version of "Half a Sixpence". Some of the songs you may recognise but there are quite a few new catchy numbers.
This is my first time directing - having spent many years on the stage it has been a real challenge to be on the other side. I never really appreciated how much hard work goes on behind the scenes and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have helped put this show on the Windmill stage today.
To all the cast - a very, very special thank you. You have all worked extremely hard. It has been great to work with such a talented cast, it has made my job a lot easier. We have had some good laughs along the way, some of which I will remember forever. Thank you.
We really hope you enjoy our version of this wonderful show and may the fun we have had in rehersals shine through this performance.
Enjoy. Fiona Humphrey
Kipps - Jamie Griffiths
Young Kipps - Ethan Wase
Young Ann - Summer Spight
Sid - Harry Perry
Buggins - Ben Sunderland
Pearce - Craig Davey
Kate - Juliette Grevett
Victoria - Laura Thornett
Flo - Josephine Sunderland
Shalford - Tony Makey
Mrs. Walsingham - Micki Darbyshire
Helen - Georgina Zupnik
Ann - Louise Chalcraft
Young Walsingham - Simon Bain
Chitterlow - Barry Tinkler
Laura - Louise Moss
Coachman/Toastmaster/Musician - Alan Moss
Orphanage Maid - Anne Honour
Shop Girls - Maddie Denby , Chloe Retter
Shop Boys - George Hargreaves , Tom Silverson
Toffee Apple Seller/Student/Duchess - Val Daly
Ice Cream Seller/Student/Carruthers/Stagehand - David Griffin
Jeremiah/Clown/Photographer - Scott hudson
Banjo Player/Cricket Umpire - Craig Gordon
Edith Machin/Customer - Stevie Bennett
Mayor/Musician/Customer - Mike Gearing
Deckhair Attendant/Customer - Maureen Ayres
Newspaper Reporter/Dresser/Student - Sara Spencer
Gwendoline the Maid/Tumbler - Karen Perry
Waitress - Nancy Perry
Student/Dresser - Anne Anderson
Children - Kirsty Ferris, Phoebe Gearing, Tia Grove, Ruby Hargreaves, Lauren Wase,
Dancers - Nicolle Wabe, Maisie Poland.
Director - Fiona Humphrey
Assistant Director - Micki Darbyshire
Musicians - Chris Stanbury, Phil Soloman, John McSweeney
Stage Manager - Ricky Davey
Backstage Crew - Gary Boniface, Dave Stapley, Dave Humphrey
Lighting - Inspire Leisure
Props - Christine Moss
Wardrobe - Sandra Booker, Mike Gearing, Maureen Ayres
Rehersal Pianist - John McSweeney
Musical Director - Fiona Humphrey, Daniel Paine and Michael Wooldridge
Choreographer - Becca Vince, Nicolle Wabe
Chaperones - Hannah Brooks, Trisha Retter, Jo Hargreaves, Nicci Wase and Jo Grove
Costume Hire - Harvey's of Hove
Set Design and Construction - Ricky Davey, Mike Gearing, Tony Makey, Gary Boniface, Darren Retter, Dave Humphrey and Company
Publicity - Micki Darbyshire
Posters and Program Design - Joy Covey
Posters and Program Printing - Mission Labels.
The Stage-Door Best Performance Award was won by Jamie Griffiths for his role as Kipps.
Tommy Steele starred in the original 1963 West End Production of Half a Sixpence, but would the musical pay it's way in post decimal times, and would it work without the chirpy cockney?
Stage Door Theatre Company provided the answers in its staging of the latest version, with some great new songs.
Based on Kipps - The Story of a Simple Soul, by H G Wells it tells the story of an orphan who inherits wealth beyond his dreams, is swindled out of it and finally finds true happiness with his childhood sweetheart.
From the outset, we were richly rewarded for venturing to the Windmill Entertainment Center, Littlehampton on an evening when many would have stayed in to watch television. This show had all the variety we needed and we were royally entertained.
Great singers, dancers and actors were backed up with style by keyboard, piano and drums. Men and women in bowler hats handled the minimal but sufficient staging with skill.
Although nursing a throat virus, Jamie Griffiths played Kipps to perfection. However this was no one-man show. he was joined by a cast of teenagers, children and seasoned adults, all of whom acquitted themselves with distinction.
Kipps told us how, when they were 10, he'd sawed a sixpence in two and given one half to his childhood sweetheart Ann. Both were to keep their halves to remind them of thier lifelong bond. We learned of his life as an apprentice draper, his nouveau-riche period and his return to simplicity. In the middle period he became engaged to society girl Helen and was conned out of his fortune by her brother. However, true love prevailed and he ended up happily married to Ann.
Among so many highlights, I was impressed with the new songs, esspecially the sililoquy "What Should I feel" which displayed Jamie's lyrical singing backed up by a solo girl dancer.
Clad in tweed Barry Tinkler excelled as Chitterlow, an actor friend he met along the way. Micki Darbyshire as Helen's pompous mum, has us in stitches and Georgina Zupnik as her daughter (Suitably posh) and Louise Chalcraft as Ann (suitably not so) were spot on.
This splendid show concluded with a well-deserved encore of perhaps the show's best-known song, Flash Bang Wallop.
Congratulations to everyone, including debutante director Fiona Humphrey.
-- Jim Hurdwell, Herald and Gazette, Thursday, December 30th 2010.