Review: Half a Sixpence

half a sixpence

A night full of music, comedy and flashy umbrellas, Liv Chadbon directs a winning performance.

This week, PARTS has returned to the Shelley theatre to perform Half a Sixpence after months of practice. As a huge fan of musicals but unaware of what this particular show entailed, I was excited to watch PARTS’ interpretation of the classic story, most known for its 1967 film adaption starring Tommy Steele.

Last night I was taken back to Edwardian England, transported by the cast’s costumes, accents and demeanours to learn about the story of Arthur Kipps. The orphan unexpectedly inherits a fortune and proves what money can do to a man. Although once smitten with his sweetheart, Kipps leaves commoner Ann for the well-educated Miss Walsingham and the affluent life that comes with her. Whilst the show is dated, it can certainly be appreciated by a modern audience. You might get frustrated with Kipp’s decisions as he attempts to climb the social ladder but his heart is never too far away from home. Plus, what’s a musical without a little drama?

The Cast

The singing was spot on with strong vocals from Ellie Gorman as Ann and Tara Davies as Helen Walsingham. My favourite song was undoubtedly ‘Finesse’. It was full of animation and wit as it showed the upper class’ true colours. The song also gave Lou Whalley as the uptight Mrs Walsingham the opportunity to show off her incredible vocals. I have previously been stunned at the Christmas showcase with her astonishing singing abilities.

It was great to see such strong male members in the show. A particular stand out was Alex Lushington as the aspiring playwright, Chitterlow. His comical act and impressive strength had the audience in stitches. Along with the 3 amigos played by Samuel Orbell, Nicolas Lamy and James Sholl who perfected the ability to engage with the audience. The two villains of the story, Matt Adams as Mrs Walsingham’s son and Harry Evans as cruel Mr Shalford gave successful performances. Whilst very different characters, both played on comedy in their own way. Adams kept on turning up from all directions and Evans mastered the angry boss. And I cannot fault the lead played by William Cook who barely left the stage. He led a believable performance as he went through several emotions on his journey.

The show provided several minor roles which allowed people to shine including the three girls who worked as draper assistants. Estelle Moseley, Ella Murray and Tallula Frankish proved that all good things come in threes. The ensemble can be underappreciated, but these dedicated members brought energy and realism to the stage. This was especially evident in the number, Flash Bang Wallop where the cast burst with energy and the choreography shone, arranged by Hattie Brannam. The production team cannot be missed and deserve endless recognition for putting together such a slick show.

The Finale

The show ended with a standing ovation and left me singing ‘half a sixpence, is better than half a penny’ on the way home. With three performances left, this show is definitely worth a watch. Support your local theatre and PARTS in booking the last few tickets here – http://shelleytheatre.co.uk/.