Half a Sixpence

Musical by David Heneker and Beverley Cross. Arthur Kipps, an orphan, is an over-worked draper's assistant at Shalford's Bazaar in Folkestone, at the turn of the last century. He is a charming but ordinary young man who, along with his fellow apprentices, dreams of a better and more fulfilling world, but he likes his fun just like any other, except not quite. When Kipps unexpectedly inherits a fortune that propels him into high society, it confuses everything he thought he knew about life. With the help of his friends, Arthur learns that if you want to have the chance of living the right life, you need to make the right choices. Featuring the classic songs 'Flash, Bang, Wallop', 'Money To Burn' and the title song.

1963: Original Half-a-Sixpence Musical

2016: Revised Kipps: The Half-a-Sixpence Musical

Musical with music and lyrics by David Heneker, and book by Beverley Cross, based on the H.G. Wells novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul.

The World Premiere of Half-a-Sixpence starring Tommy Steele took place on Saturday 9 March to Friday 15 March 1963 at the Wimbledon Theatre in a production that transferred to London's West End later the same month. Tommy Steele went on to star in a revised version, with additional and expanded dance sequences, on Broadway in 1965 and in the 1967 film version.


1963: West End London Premiere with Tommy Steele

Opened 21 March 1963 (no previews), Closed 31 October 1964 at the Cambridge Theatre

The cast featured Tommy Steele as 'Arthur Kipps', Marti Webb as 'Ann Pornick', Anna Barry as 'Helen Walsingham', James Grout as 'Harry Chitterlow', Jessica James as 'Mrs Walsingham', Ian White as 'Young Walsingham', John Bull as 'Sid Pornick', Arthur Brough as 'Mr Shalford', Anthony Valentine as 'Pearce', Colin Farrell as 'Buggins', Sheila Reid as 'Flo Bates', Anne Briley as 'Emma', Arthur Blake as 'Chester Coote', Brian Beaton as 'Reporter', Charles Workman as 'Mr Carshot', Cheryl Kennedy as 'Victoria', David Williams as 'Photographer', Diana Lander as 'A Lady Student', Henrietta Holmes as 'Kate', Irene Byatt as 'Mrs Botting', Jeff Hall as 'Mr Wilkins', Marie Betts as 'Gwendolin', Roy Sone as 'A Bearded Student', Susan Dawn as 'Laura', Alan Woodard, Anne Briley, Ben Stevenson, Brenda Scaife, David Hepburn, David Wheldon-Williams, Gerard Hunt, Mary Murphy, Mary Willis, Paul Statham, Roy Jones, Sheila McGrow, Susan Dawn, and Tessa Bremner.

Directed by John Dexter, with choreography by Edmund Balin, designs by Loudon Sainthill, and lighting by Richard Pilbrow.

Prior to London's West End this production, with the same cast, was presented for eight performances at the Wimbledon Theatre from Saturday 9 March to Friday 15 March 1963.


2016: 1st West End London Revival with Charlie Stemp

Previewed 29 October 2016, Opened 17 November 2016, Closed 2 September 2017 at the Noel Coward Theatre

Revised musical co-created by Cameron Mackintosh, with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, and revised book by Julian Fellowes, with original music and lyrics by David Heneker. NOTE: This revised version of the musical is now called Kipps: The Half-a-Sixpence Musical.

The cast featured Charlie Stemp as 'Arthur Kipps', Devon-Elise Johnson as 'Ann Pornick', Emma Williams as 'Helen Walsingham', Ian Bartholomew as 'Chitterlow', Vivien Parry as 'Mrs Walsingham', Gerard Carey as 'James Walsingham'/'Photographer', Alex Hope as 'Sid Pornick', John Conroy as 'Mr Shalford'/'Mr Foster', Callum Train as 'Pierce', Sam O'Rourke as 'Buggins', Bethany Huckle as 'Flo', Jane How as 'Lady Punnet', Annie Wensak as 'Aunt Susan'/'Lady Dacre', David Burrows as 'Uncle Bert', Harry Morrison as 'Carshot'/'Maxwell', Jaye Juliette Elster as 'Mrs Wace', Jennifer Louise Jones as 'Miss Ross', Kimberly Blake as 'Mrs Bindo-Botting', Lauren Varnham as 'Mildred', Matthew Dale as 'Hayes', Nick Butcher as 'Head Waiter', Philip Marriott as 'Policeman', Rebecca Jayne-Davies as 'Mary', Tim Hodges as 'Mr Wace', David Birch, Dawn Williams, Ross Lee Fowkes, and Samantha Hull.

Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, with choreography by Andrew Wright, designs by Paul Brown, video by Luke Halls, lighting by Paule Constable, and sound by Mick Potter.

This production came into London's West End following a summer season in repertory at the Chichester Festival Theatre in West Sussex - previewed from 14 July 2016, opened on 26 July 2016, and closed on 3 September 2016 - with the same cast, except for James Paterson as 'Uncle Bert'.

Ian Bartholomew's London theatre credits include 'Vivian Van Damm' in Terry Johnson's production of the George Fenton, Simon Chamberlain, and Don Black musical Mrs Henderson Presents at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2016; 'Tilney' in Declan Donnellan's production of Lee Hall's stage adaptation of Shakespeare In Love at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2014; 'Uncle Ernie' in Des McAnuff's revival of The Who's Tommy at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1996; 'Nick' in Terry Johnson's production of his comedy Dead Funny at the Savoy Theatre in 1995; 'Wilfred Davies' in David Gilmore's production of Noel Gay's Radio Times at the Queen's Theatre in 1992; and 'Baker' in Richard Jones production of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods at the Phoenix Theatre in 1990.

Emma Williams' London theatre credits include 'Maureen' in Terry Johnson's production of the George Fenton, Simon Chamberlain, and Don Black musical Mrs Henderson Presents at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2016; 'Jenny Cavilleri' in Rachel Kavanaugh's production of the Howard Goodall and Stephen Clark musical Love Story at the Duchess Theatre in 2010; 'Luisa' in Christopher Renshaw's production of Stephen Clark's Gipsy Kings musical Zorro at the Garrick Theatre in 2008; 'Johanna' in David Freeman's concert revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the Royal Festival Hall in 2007; the title role of 'Susan' in Angus Jackson's production of Peter Michael Marino's Blondie musical Desperately Seeking Susan at the Novello Theatre in 2007; 'Shelley Parker' in Mark Wing-Davey's production of Laurence O'Keefe's Bat Boy at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2004; and 'Truly Scrumptious' in Adrian Noble's production of the Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium in 2002.

Vivien Parry's London theatre credits include 'Madge Hardwick' in Matthew White's production of Irving Berlin's Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre in 2012; 'Donna Sheridan' in Phyllida Lloyd's production of Catherine Johnson's ABBA musical Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward Theatre in 2004 and Prince of Wales Theatre in 2005; and 'Miss Bell' in the original cast of Runar Borge's production of the Steve Margoshes and Jacques Levy musical Fame at the Cambridge Theatre in 1995.

Rachel Kavanaugh's London theatre credits include the musicals Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park in 2015; and Love Story at the Duchess Theatre in 2010.

When this production opened here at the Noel Coward Theatre in November 2016, Neil Norman in the Daily Express highlighted that, "after a triumphant run at Chichester Festival Theatre, Rachel Kavanaugh's production of Half A Sixpence has been refreshed and rebooted for the West End. The old-fashioned musical that gave Tommy Steele his big theatrical break in 1963 is now a work of vibrant beauty, with fresh songs and energy... Solid gold entertainment." Ann Treneman in the Times explained that "it was the impresario Cameron Mackintosh who wanted to give this musical new life, hiring the hit-maker team of Julian Fellowes to write the script and the composer George Stiles and the lyricist Anthony Drewe to reinvigorate the whole caboodle. The result is a new script, seven new songs and the others considerably improved... Andrew Wright's choreography is sharp throughout but on the best numbers it is extraordinary. Those include Flash, Bang, Wallop which is, to use a technical term, absolutely stonking."

When this production opened at the Chichester Festival Theatre in West Sussex in July 2016, pre-West End, Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard exclaimed: "What a show! Welcome to the undoubted hit of the summer, perhaps even the year, courtesy of Chichester... Next stop the West End, and awards aplenty." Gary Shipton in The i Newspaper said that, "thanks to a mix of choreography, endlessly revolving props of merry-go-round proportions, and a cast who are on fire with Charlie Stemp ablaze at the helm, this is a genuine masterpiece... This is a triumph." Sam Marlowe in The Times highlighted that the "sparkling new songs enhance skilful reworkings of David Heneker's original numbers. And Rachel Kavanaugh's production is right on the money, with dazzling choreography by Andrew Wright and a lead performance by the newcomer Charlie Stemp that radiates easy charm and gawky grace... Yes, the show is brash and sentimental, and it lacks the substance to become a classic. Yet when it's polished up as deftly as this, it's rollicking good fun." Lyn Gardner in The Guardian thought that "Rachel Kavanaugh's staging is hugely efficient - it knows how to deliver a finale and a curtain call - but oddly charmless... Sympathy and heart are what this strenuous, old-fashioned enterprise utterly lacks." Quentin Letts in The Daily Mail wrote that "this is a creditable show, in places even charming and performed with indisputable energy. It succeeds chiefly for two reasons: an insistently springy young male star, Charlie Stemp, and a great finale song, Flash Bang Wallop." Ian Shuttleworth in The Financial Times explained that "a few of David Heneker's songs have been cut, with the remainder reordered, repurposed and augmented by new numbers from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe; Beverley Cross's script has been replaced with one by Julian Fellowes... The songs are for the most part jaunty to say the least, with the new Stiles & Drewe numbers fitting in well among the repointed originals," adding that "Rachel Kavanaugh directs stylishly." Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph said: "Flash, Bang, Wallop! What a turn up for the books! Half a Sixpence, the larky musical that catapulted Tommy Steele into a different showbiz league over half a century ago, has been enhanced, re-sized, had all its blemishes removed and now looks pretty close to perfection... Bravo! If the first incarnation of this show was all Steele, this one's pure gold."

"Flash, bang, wallop! What a show!... Arthur Kipps, the 'umble draper who inherits a fortune and overnight is catapulted into Edwardian high society - and the arms of Helen, a gentle teacher. But while he struggles to fit into the upper classes - and his scheming in-laws-to-be make plans for his money - he can't forget Ann, his childhood sweetheart. Now a parlour maid, Ann still carries a torch for Arthur, along with the halfsixpence he gave her as a love token. Thanks to terrific choreography, energetic dancing and show stopping numbers like Pick Out A Simple Tune and Flash Bang Wallop, this revival of the 1967 classic by Julian Fellowes is now undoubtedly the hottest ticket in the West End. You'll leave stamping your feet!" The Sunday Mirror

Half a Sixpence in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 29 October 2016, opened on 17 November 2016, and closed on 2 September 2017