Half a Sixpence

Date 8th November 2014
Society CAOS Musical Theatre Company
Venue Park View Theatre, Chester-le-Street
Type of Production Musical
Director Marjorie Bolam
Musical Director Gillian Anderson


Author: Michelle Coulson

Based on the Novel “Kipps” by H G Wells, “Half a Sixpence” tells of humble orphan Arthur Kipps who is propelled into high society when he inherits a fortune (£1,200 a month!) before discovering that he does not fit, and can only find real happiness with his childhood sweetheart Ann.

Kipps (James Forster) narrates the piece, and at the outset he tells the audience that his story is made up of “pictures”, and this phrase was subsequently mirrored in the set design by the portrayal of each scene within a picture frame. This ensured that the many scene changes were slick and assisted the pace of the show.

The role of Kipps is mammoth, being in 19 of the musical numbers hardly leaving the stage, and James did very well, and managed to maintain the energy throughout his performance.  The relationship between Kipps and his fellow workmates Sid (Andrew Fearon), Buggins (Andrew Emerson) and Pearce (Graeme Smith) is the focal point of much of the comedy, and the camaraderie between the four was tangible.  Their rendition of “Economy” was particularly, good with excellent harmonies.  The four friends also had excellent support from their work colleagues and girlfriends Kate (Joanne Whitfield), Victoria (Kirstie Swirles), and Flo (Anne Holt), each portraying their different characters well.

Kipps’ childhood sweetheart, Ann, was played by Claire Bidnell who not only sang well, but also did an excellent job of portraying the many different emotions which Ann finds herself subjected to because of Kipps’ antics.  I particularly enjoyed the duet “Long Ago”.

When Kipps is thrust into high society he becomes engaged to the delightful Helen Walsingham, played to perfection by Laura Dollimore.  Katie Howes gave a superb portrayal of Mrs Walsingham, the matriarchal head of the family, and Andy Key, as Young Walsingham, provided a perfect contrast to Kipps and completed this strong line up.

The last, but certainly not least, person to enter Kipps’ life and subsequently change it forever is flamboyant actor Chitterlow.  Bill Collins gave a very good portrayal of this audience-pleasing character, scene-stealing to perfection.

The supporting roles of Shalford (Danny McCann) and Laura (Sheila Bradley) were well played, and there were enjoyable performances from the children and the chorus, particularly in the rousing chorus numbers “Flash Bang Wallop” and “Money to Burn” all accompanied by a very good orchestra.  All the elements of this show combined to produce a heart-warming typically British musical; well done to all involved.

I was honoured to present NODA long service awards to Linda Wood (10 years), Anne Holt (15 years), Joanne Whitfield (25 years) and Julia Snaith (30 years). Many congratulations to you all.