Half a Sixpence

Date 23rd July 2016
Society Orrell Musical & Dramatic Society
Venue St Michael's Church Hall Wigan
Type of Production Musical
Director Diane Jones
Musical Director Linda Scott
Choreographer Jackie Webb


Author: Patricia Connor

The original “Half a Sixpence” is a British musical based on H.G. Well’s novel “Kipps: The Story of A Simple Soul”, from a book by Beverly Cross with music and lyrics by David Heneker. This new version of the show by Warner Brown was toured by Bill Kenwright across the UK in 2007/2008. It has the same storylines and characters as the original show, but has additional scenes, bigger roles for some of the supporting characters, some new songs and more humour. The new songs, still have music by David Heneker but have new lyrics.
The story centers on orphan Arthur Kipps who cuts a sixpence in half and gives one half to Ann his childhood friend to remember him by. Years later, Ann comes looking for him when he is working as an apprentice in a draper’s shop in Folkestone and they become friends again. Then everything changes for Arthur when he inherits a fortune, leaves the shop, falls in love and becomes engaged to Helen Walsingham and is drawn into the world of high society. However, he calls off his engagement and marries Ann his childhood friend. Then Arthur learns that he has lost all his money and realises that all that matters is that he and Ann have each other. At the end of the show Arthur finds he has come into money again, but this time he realises that love is more important and has been all along. He learns that if you want to have the chance of living a good and happy life, you have to think carefully, not be selfish and make the right choices.
It is a number of years since I last saw the musical “Half a Sixpence” and I was really looking forward to seeing this new version produced by “Orrell Musical and Dramatic Society” and I wasn't at all disappointed as this was a very enjoyable production, all the cast appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely, working well together, performing the well-known songs with gusto and the effective applicable choreography from Jackie Webb very well.  The show was directed by the talented Diane Jones who also found the time to play Mrs Walsingham, the other cast members included a hard working David Simm who gave a good strong performance in the demanding central role of Arthur Kipps, he was complimented nicely by Victoria Fairhurst who sang and acted very well as Kipps ‘s childhood friend Ann. David Jones produce some nice comedy moments in his role as Chitterlow the playwright while Claire Kirk was very serene and ladylike as Helen. There were good energetic supportive performances from the actors playing Kipps's friends and fellow employees, they included Anthony Baldwin as Sid, Peter Carletti as Pearce, Ste Carletti as Buggins, Rachel McGunigle as Kate, Alison Hampson as Flo and Natasha Dunne as Victoria. Other notable performances were from Sarah Farley as Laura, Ray Sims as Mr Shalford and Jay Parr as young Walsingham. The principal cast were supported very well by the chorus who performed entertainingly with lots of enthusiasm, producing some individual characters of their own.  The band led by Musical Director Linda Scott also supported the cast excellently playing soundly at just the right level and speed.

The stage was set by using props, furniture and an innovative use of a back screen which projected lovely well painted pictures for each scene instead of backcloths and the promenade was a permanent fixture to the side of the stage which along with very good lighting was very effective, well done to all stage and technical crew for very efficient effective staging. Just a constructive comment, I thought initially there was a problem with the microphones but I then realised that the microphones were turned off during dialogue and that they were only on during musical numbers. I am sure there was a very good reason for this but unfortunately, it did give a different feeling to the production when they were off and also it was harder to hear some of the dialogue as some of the cast did not project too well.

However, this was a very enjoyable entertaining production with bright colourful costumes which added to the atmosphere and feel of the production and was also full of energy and enthusiasm. Congratulations to Director Diane Jones and to all involved in this show, thank you for inviting us we had a lovely evening, we look forward to seeing you soon.