(I’m aware this pun has been immensely overused but it had to be said.)

Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of half a sixpence at the Chichester festival theatre is a triumph. Following the original story, this show is packed with energy, and oozes elegance right to the back row of the auditorium. At the heart of the production is young Arthur Kipps- played by Charlie Stemp- who’s good fortune leaves him stuck between the choice of two women. Stemp’s magnetic charisma lights up the theatre throughout the show, and his talent is second to none. Alongside him are leading ladies Devon-Elise Johnson, Bethany Huckle and Emma Williams, who play Ann, Flo and Helen respectively. Audiences will be familiar with Arthur’s childhood sweetheart Ann, with whom he shares his sixpence, but the creators have taken a fresh approach to the high-born, hoity-toity Helen. Although still poised and elegant, Williams brings a feisty quirkiness to the character that verges on rebelliousness. It is clear that Helen is trapped within a social bracket that she’d rather not be confined to, which provides a very real dilemma for Arthur Kipps.

 

 

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Costume Designs by Paul Brown


Chichester Festival Theatre is a beautiful venue. Unlike most London theatres, Chichester’s thrust staging provides a tricky practical challenge for the creative team. This means the stage extends into the auditorium, so that the actors are performing to three sides. And my goodness, have they used the staging to their advantage. With three independent turn-tables (take that, Les Miserables) the intricacy of the set design means that there’s never a dull moment. The creative team really have outdone themselves. Undoubtedly, Half a Sixpence’s liveliness suits Chichester perfectly.

 

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Post-show talk with Kate Mosse, Emma Williams, Ian Bartholomew, Charlie Stemp and Bethany Huckle. 

With original songs including ‘If the rain’s got to fall’ and ‘Flash, Bang, Wallop” this show is still the loveable classic we all know. All I can say is that I simply can’t wait until the soundtrack is released. I literally cannot wait; I’m checking the website twenty times a day.

Walking out of the theatre and seeing elderly couples skipping and whistling away epitomised the show for me. What a wonderful production. And it's about t open in the West End!

Published by Meg Edwards