If you mention the title Half A Sixpence, you know that the person you’re speaking to will know all about it.
Brought first to the stage in 1963 by the legendary Tommy Steele, it created a wave in a new direction for the now iconic musical tale. However, this new and freshly updated version has all the charm and fun we loved before, with the addition of a royal new script, fun songs and a pretty phenomenal leading man.
Bursting with a new book by Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes, the cheeky and light-hearted nature of this show is what keeps you smiling from curtain up to curtain call. Mixed with a fresh score from songwriting stars Stiles and Drewe, you’re caught beaming and bouncing your leg all the way through every number. Flash, Bang, Wallop! is still, to this day, as infectious as it once was that very first time you heard it.
However, the star of this show stands tall in actor Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps. Rightly taking the role in a fresh and new direction, there’s very little similarity between Charlie and Tommy, but maybe that’s why it works so well. Vocally charming and bursting with a smile that’ll melt your heart regularly, his superb dance ability proving him to be the true star you want him to be. And with his posters littered all over the West End and tube networks, the pressure is high to deliver here. Of course, Charlie does and seemingly does so with real ease.
Following the story of a man who inherits a fortune, the Noël Coward Theatre might have housed some of the finest stage actors of our time, but this one is deserving of almost equal praise. In ten years, people will still talk about Charlie Stemp. Fact!
Emma Williams and Helen Walsingham match Charlie will throughout, but do struggle to keep up such energy and lust he has. It’s fair that, as he soars, others must sprint.
Rachel Kavanaugh’s production is wonderfully historic to what we all know of Half A Sixpence, but is still charming in its determination to find new life in this work.
Well framed in Paul Brown scenic design direct from the Chichester Festival Theatre, there isn’t a man, woman or child that won’t beam at every turning moment of this delightful tale. Add in Andrew Wright’s energetic choreography and a leading man like Charlie Stemp and how could you possibly go wrong?
The answer? Well, you can’t. It’s perfect!
Click here to read our full review with Half a Sixpence leading man Charlie Stemp.
GT gives Half a Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre — 5/5