Kipps – The New Half a Sixpence Musical
Admin (Sardines) | 12 Jan 2022 23:47pm
Reviewed by Ken Lucas
Half a Sixpence, originally written in the 1960s as vehicle for Tommy Steele both on stage and on screen, charts the rise, fall and rise again of Arthur Kipps from humble drapery assistant into upper class society via an inheritance.
Kipps with a new book by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) and additional music by George Stiles and Anthony Drew reworks Half a Sixpence into an ensemble piece with numerous featured character roles that is ideally suited for amateur companies.
Hector Wheatley as the eponymous Kipps turns in a splendid, well-rounded performance, encompassing comedy and pathos, from the confident young man in the company of his friends through to the nervous fiancé in the second act. With a fine singing voice and commanding presence his performance is a pleasure to see.
Kipps is torn between two love interests, Ann Pornick, his common-sense childhood sweetheart played and beautifully sung by Rosie Parrish, whilst Saskia Edwards-Korolczuk gives us a fine rendition of Helen Walsingham.
From a strong ensemble cast, Ash Smith gives a delightfully over-the-top account of Mr Chitterlow, an aspiring playwright who first discovers that Kipps is entitled to an inheritance. Strong performances too from Mandy Jeffery and Caroline Dyson, sparring as Lady Punnet and Mrs Walsingham, two snobbish upper-class ladies, whist Warren Clark convinces as the grumpy, authoritarian Mr Shalford, Kipps’s employer.
Kirsty Smith’s choreography is slick and she appeared in virtually every scene on the evening I saw the show, presumably to cover Covid-related absences.
Under the baton of Andrew Taylor and Musical Directorship of Ana Sanderson the 10-piece band produces a fine sound albeit placed in an adjoining room. Unfortunately this is not always entirely successful in terms of timing. But this is a minor blip in an otherwise thoroughly entertaining evening. All in all, as Lady Punnet puts it, “I told you musical evening are fun!”