Half A Sixpence – March 2016

16-03 Half A Sixpence LAOS web banner2

8-12th March 2016

Loughborough Town Hall

Tickets: Tuesday Evening & Saturday Matinee £13
Wednesday – Saturday Evening £15

Director: Nicola Dexter                 Assistant Director: Natalie Littlewood
Musical Director: Hazel Needham
Choreographer: Ian Dean

 

Made famous by the 1967 film starring Tommy Steele, Half a Sixpence tells the rags to riches story of Arthur Kipps, an orphan, who lives and works with other apprentices for Mr. Shalford. After learning that he is inheriting a fortune, Arthur tries to join the upper class and gets engaged to the wealthy Helen Walsingham. Soon, however, Arthur realises that his true love is his childhood sweetheart, Ann. Kipps and Ann were childhood friends and when they were parted, Kipps cut a sixpence in half and told Ann to look at it whenever she missed him. Eventually, Arthur loses all of his newfound wealth, in the process learning that money does not buy everything. With its famous songs including “Half a Sixpence” and “Flash, Bang, Wallop” as well as “The Party’s on the House” and “A Proper Gentleman”.

Half a Sixpence is a real feel good show with a happy ending that will be enjoyed by all the family.

 

CAST

Arthur Kipps – James Highton
Ann Pornick – Becky Bakewell
Sid – Liam Patrick
Buggins – Ian Dean
Pearce – Josh Hill
Frank – Alex Halford
Chitterlow – Richard York
Flo – Rosie Morris
Victoria – Gemma Hopwood
Emma – Gemma Baxter
Kate – Nicole Ray
Helen Walsingham – Nikita Collington
Young Walsingham – Andy Marmoy
Mrs Walsingham – Sue Reynolds
Mr Shalford – Mark Chinnery
Mrs Botting – Kate King
Major Botting – Kevin Clarke
Capt Carshot – John Smith

 

Read the REVIEWS online:

 

Matt Jarram – Loughborough Echo
Kev Castle – Nottingham Hospitals Radio

 

(or read on below!)

 

Matt Jaram – Loughborough Echo

 

This 1963 West End musical comedy was written as a vehicle for British pop star Tommy Steele and based on H.G. Well’s novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul.

THERE is nothing like a good ‘ol fashioned musical yarn!

And Loughborough Amateur Operatic Society (LAOS) were on fine form as they brought Half a Sixpence to the Town Hall stage.

This 1963 West End musical comedy was written as a vehicle for British pop star Tommy Steele and based on H.G. Well’s novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul.

Stepping into the title role of Kipp was James Highton.

To say he owned the stage is an understatement. He took the show to a whole new level!

Half a Sixpence is a simple story, but not one that takes away its potential.

This is a show which is about losing yourself in the magic of the music from a bygone era rather than pondering on some of its themes, which sometimes feel a little under written.

It is a story about rags to riches, only to turn the tables and question whether true happiness can ever be achieved by the amount in your bank account.

This is the dilemma that fun-loving and chirpy Kipp finds himself in – an apprentice draper who lives and works in Shalford Emporium.

Undermined by his boss (Mark Chinnery) but adored by his pals – Sid (Liam Patrick), Buggins (Ian Dean) and Pearce (Josh Hill) – Kipp’s fortunes begin to change when he, well, inherits a fortune.

While this ascends Kipp up the social ladder and into the arms of posh socialite Helen (Nikita Collington) and her well-to-do family, Kipp craves his old self and an old flame whose heart he broke called Ann played by Becky Bakewell.

This all makes for some rollicking good fun! And at times, some moments of reflection.

From the dancing to the singing, the set, the costume and the casting, there is hardly a flaw in this production. Yes, the first half does not take a little while to heat up, especially as there is no musical number to open the show but a lot of dialogue to build character.

But when we arrive at All in the Case of Economy, you can’t help but tap your feet to the playful and catchy numbers. And these continue throughout the production.

My personal favourite Flash Bang Wallop outside a church deserved a standing ovation as it showcased the entire company’s talents.

Highton was made for this part – charming, comical, captivating, you wonder how the young actor managed to remember all his musical numbers.

He was well supported by Patrick, Dean and Hill.

Special mention must also be given to the two female leads and Richard York as the batty Chitterlow bringing plenty of laughs to the eccentric part.

Half a Sixpence delivers the feel good factor, and it was a pleasure to see an old musical resurrected by a local Loughborough company.

Definitely worth more than Half a Sixpence. Go see it!

The show is at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday, March 12, 7.30pm each night, plus a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets can be booked from the Town Hall Box Office.

 

Kev Castle – Nottingham Hospitals Radio

 

This, sadly, little performed musical from the sixties is my first experience of Loughborough Amateur Operatic Society, as I missed out on seeing “Sweet Charity” last year, and what an introduction to this very talented bunch of thespians. You’d have to be a penny short of a farthing not to enjoy this energetic show. My money’s on it being a total success by the end of its’ run, this coming Saturday.

“Sixpence” is all about Arthur Kipps, an orphan who is a shop boy and lives below the shop, owned by Mr Shalford. Kipps unexpectedly inherits a fortune, and climbs the social ladder before losing everything and realizing that you just can’t buy happiness until he goes back to what he had before and marries his original sweetheart, Ann,

The musical was originally used as a vehicle for Tommy Steele back in 1967 and features eleven of the fourteen songs sung by Kipps, so there’s a lot of pressure on James Highton who plays Kipps in this musical. James rises to the occasion with a strong and distinctive voice. Vocally he blends well with the ensemble numbers as well as the songs with the shop boys, Chitterlow and Ann. He has a clear tone which is also powerful, making sure that you hear every word of the songs. A confident and instantly likeable leading man who creates a realistic chemistry with Ann. You can see the enthusiasm in numbers like “Flash, Bang, Wallop”, “Money To Burn” and “The Party’s On The House” as well as a lovely air of melancholy in “She’s Too Far Above Me”, To me James was like a cross between Melvyn Hayes and Anthony Newley, fun with a great singing voice.

Ably supported by his fellow shop boys Liam Patrick (Sid), Ian Dean (Buggins), who also did a brilliant job as choreographer, especially as this was his debut for LAOS in this field. Josh Hill as Pearce completes the trio of co-workers with Kipps. There are some lovely, almost barbershop harmonies when the four sing together. Again some very energetic dance routines for the quartet.

The shop girls, Flo (Rose Morris), Kate (Nicole Ray), Victoria (Gemma Hopwood) and Emma (Gemma Baxter) were a lovely compliment to the male contingent of the shop, both looks wise and vocally.

Mark Chinnery (Mr Shalford) put the boss into bossy, or should that be the other way round, as was Sue Reynolds as Mrs Walsingham, one of the upper class ladies of the family that Kipps very nearly married into. Along with Mrs Botting (Kate King), they would have made Arthur’s life a living hell. Helen Walsingham completed the female Walsinghams and was played by Nikita Collington.

Ann was played by the lovely Becky Bakewell. To quote another musical, lovely to look at and lovely to listen to. Her solo song, “I Know What I Am” was quite splendid and sent a shiver up the spine to make the hair on my neck rise. Some lovely light and shade in Becky’s performances, from the angry “I Don’t Believe A Word Of It” to the slightly sentimental “Long Ago” duet.

Chitterlow, the actor and playwright in the play, delivers the news of the inheritance to Arthur, was played by Richard York. A lovely over the top ham performance by Chitterlow ,not by Richard. It looked like Richard mastered the drunken stagger and slur part, and I imagine hours of research may have gone into mastering the character.

Young Walsingham, the abtholute cad of the pieth, wath camped up with an added lithp, which made the role even funnier and played for maximum laughs and comedic affect by Andy Marmoy.

It’s a large cast with a combined ensemble of fourteen others aside from the main roles. All slotting in nicely and making the full ensemble choreographed scenes feel like a fun day on the set of “Eastenders” (if you can remember “fun” and “Eastenders” being used in the same sentence).

A wonderful orchestra created a lovely clear sound and was under the musical direction of Hazel Needham. Directed by Nicola Dexter, who was in the last production of “Sixpence” by LAOS in 2004. she brought out the fun and the energy in the actors. There’s only one thing I would have changed if I was director and that was at the close of Act One. The act ended on the brilliant “If The Rains Got To Fall” with the cast, part kneeling, to the lights being dimmed to close. they then made their way off of the stage after the applause. I would have had the curtain come down so the last we saw of the cast would be in the final positions, not getting to their feet and making their way into the wings. i suppose that’s why I’m reviewing though and not directing the show!

Some simple but very effective and colourful scenes, which were changed with the absolute minimum of fuss, and some wonderful costumes made this an aural and visual delight.

A thoroughly enjoyable show which is great fun to watch. The story is not over complicated so is easy to follow, The songs are recognisable and had the practically full Town Hall audience clapping their hands, stamping their feet and if they had big bass drums, they would be banging them as well. A talented bunch of people who obviously love doing this show because it shows in their enthusiasm.

“Half A Sixpence” is being performed by Loughborough Amateur Operatic Society at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 12 March 2016.