REVIEW: HALF A SIXPENCE (Noel Coward Theatre) ★★★★

5-charlie-stemp-as-arthur-kipps-in-chichester-festival-theatres-half-a-sixpence-photo-by-manuel-harlan-132HALF A SIXPENCE has just opened in London’s West End after a smash hit run at Chichester Festival Theatre earlier this year. The 1963 musical is based on a book by writer H. G. Wells and is the simple rags to riches story of an orphan boy who inherits a fortune and tries to find his places in the social circles of a higher class of people.

Arthur Kipps (Charlie Stemp) leaves his childhood sweetheart Ann Pornick (Devon-Elise Johnson) to head off to work in a tailors shop, earning barely enough money to survive. He lusts over a customer Helen Walsingham (Emma Williams) but knows he could never win her love as she is of a much higher class than him. When Arthur Kipps hears he has inherited a small fortune through a long lost relative, his life turns upside down and he suddenly finds himself living a life he only ever dreamed of. But is winning the love of Helen Walsingham everything he hoped it would be and can Arthur fit within the new lifestyle he has found himself in or will he give it all up and go back to his first love Ann Pornick.

Charlie Stemp is great as Arthur Kipps, a cheeky chappy with a twinkle in his eye and a brilliant dancer. Ian Bartholomew has a Gene Kelly esq feel to his character of Chitterlow and carries the story through. Devon-Elise Johnson shone as the sweet and loving Ann and Tim Hodges stood out from the crowd as Mr Wace. But it is unsurprisingly Emma Williams as Helen Walsingham that steals the show once again in this production. She radiates warmth and charisma and is a perfect candidate to play Mary Poppins one day.

Musically, HALF A SIXPENCE is a good old fashioned knees up with great songs and the iconic Flash Bang Wallop. Set design and choreography and stunning and the musical is a joyous experience to watch. Does it appeal to a younger audience who may not have heard of the show before? Probably not. At 2hrs 45mins it’s quite long but for a revival of an old classic its a great production and lovely to see it back in the West End for a while.

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Manuel Harlan

HALF A SIXPENCE plays at the Noel Coward Theatre until 11 February 2017. Tickets