Date 19th February 2022
Society West Cliff Theatre Youth
Venue The Westcliff Theatre Clacton On Sea
Type of Production Musical
Director Chris Bareham
Musical Director Nik Graham
Choreographers Gabrielle Tyler, Sarah-Jane Dartnell, Phoebe Wiggett, Chris Bareham


Author: Hazel Hole

I was warmly welcomed on arrival by Director Chris Bareham and I also had the opportunity to talk with her during the interval.

Young Arthur ( Kieron Cogger) and Young Ann ( Molly Choat) opened the show with an exchange of love tokens of two halves of a sixpence to a few strains of Half a Sixpence. The company then opened with a lively routine of “Look Alive” in Shalford's Bazaar, a drapery in Folkstone. Mr Shalford was expertly played by Nathaniel Hodge, ensuring the shop assistants were on time and courteous to his customers. Arthur Kipps (Edward Wayland) a penniless orphan, was the lead in this extravagant musical with a number of well known and well loved songs. Edward impressed with a magnificent interpretation of the role, demonstrating excellent acting and dance skills and a powerful voice. James Hooker, as Chitterlow, an actor and playright was extravagant, flamboyant and immensely confident in the role and sang several duets with Kipps. A brilliant pairing !,

Helen Walsingham, played by Gabrielle Tyler,was haughty and aristocratic and fell in love with Kipps when he inherited a fortune. She acted the part with confidence and brought good expression to her duets with Kipps eg Believe In Yourself and just a Few Little Things. Ann Pornick, played by Jade Kennedy was the original love of Kipps and had an emotional duet with him. A lovely and powerful voice.

Phoebe Wiggett was Mrs Walsingham on Saturday, keeping up appearances with no money and she was amazing in the role. Haughty, overpowering and determined to retain her place in society.

A special mention of Peter Blake who joined the cast at very short notice to take on the supporting role of James Walsingham. Peter's strong and confident singing voice came to the fore in the second act in “We'll Build a Palace.” In fact this was a great song exposing the Walsingham family's designs on Arthur's money.

Lady Punnet was an extrovert society hostess, wonderfully played by Scarlet Wiggett whose grand gardens provided the venue for the garden party.

The shop boys and girls all impressed with their adroit footwork during the dance routines, with their character interpretations and also with their singing and harmonies. A closely knit group who supported each other admirably.

Flo Evans, (Jasmine Clements) had a lovely voice and good stage presence, being very flamboyant.

Actors playing other named parts all did well as did the ensemble generally.

This lively production moved along at a cracking pace, helped by the small band, led by Musical Director, Nik Graham. The musicians were very supportive of the singers creating some lovely harmonies and a sound level which was just right for this venue. Well done-it was a joy to listen to you !

Dance routines were energetic and well rehearsed, thanks to the talents of the 4 choreographers.

The sets were brilliant, especially the bazaar, the pub, the Walsingham's house and Lady Punnet's garden and the stage crew under Stage Manager Kevin Guymer changed sets with the minimum of delay.

Finally, costumes masterminded by Chris Bareham were colourful, exquisite, sumptuous and all entirely appropriate to the period.

Congratulations to Director, Chris Bareham for her tireless work in bringing this production to life and showcasing the many talents of a young cast.

Well done to everyone involved in any way with Kipps. The audience certainly enjoyed it as I did.