Kipps

Date 21st March 2024
Society Worthing Musical Theatre Company
Venue Pavilion Theatre Worthing
Type of Production Musical
Director Robert Tremayne
Musical Director Harry Wells
Choreographer Rachel Davis

Report

Author: Keith Smithers

It has been quite a few years since I have seen “Half a Sixpence”. This rewritten version, script by Julian Fellowes, is an extremely entertaining retelling of the story of Arthur Kipps from rags to riches - not once but twice. The original music score has been re-orchestrated very well and a lot of the songs have been enlivened by this as well as keeping some of the more gentle songs in a sensitive arrangement. There were also several new songs in this latest production, all of relevance and sensitively complementing the story and original genre of David Heneker’s music. Harry Wells and his ten musicians handled this very well. For a short while at the beginning of the story, there was an imbalance between the underscoring and the volume of the dialogue. This was the first performance and the sound balance improved as the show progressed.

The aforementioned Arthur Kipps (Josh Martello) took the stage for most of the entire performance. This titular character has two ladies in his life who are Ann Pornick (Hollie Joy Innerd), his childhood sweetheart. The other one is Helen Walsingham  (Amy Stubbings) the girl to whom he becomes infatuated and engaged. Needless to say, he makes the correct choice and in this version of the story, it ends with the up tempo “Flash, Bang, Wallop!” as a finale. As this is the probably the best known song from the show, that was a wise decision from the writer and is an improvement to the original. The three above actors were well chosen for their vocal skills and enacted their parts so well.

The engaged Helen dealt with the break-up of her engagement with great demeanour but that was probably because she had a parent and brother with their own problems. Mother, Mrs. Walsingham (Ruth Roberts) was trying to cope with her other child, James (Dominic O’Brien), a fraudulent financial advisor and investor and also after having lost her husband. Consequently, her mental state was not good and played the moody and tearful person that she had become over the years.

Kipps had throughout the performance several encounters with his friends and colleagues - Ann’s brother, Sid (Jamie Sawyer), Buggins (Luke Martin), Pierce (Callum Block) and Flo Evans (Saxona Lacey). This group interacted well together and sang well in their ensemble songs.

The larger than life character in this production is Chitterlow (Phil Davis). He is a play writer and is the accidental cause of Kipps’ original large legacy. The author was confidently portrayed and his suitably enacted largesse depicted with all the energy and enthusiasm that the part required.

There were quite a large number of cameo roles throughout the action of the story, all necessary for Kipps to realise his dreams and aspirations.   

The scenery for the many scenes was very impressive and  the changes were executed with precision and alacrity. Costumes were well in keeping for the time period of the early 1900's.  

Choreography was complicated - and plenty of it - as there were a fair number of ensemble songs. As complicated as it was, it just looked so natural and the continuity was just neat and tidy.      

Over all, this was a most enjoyable production. So congratulations to directors, those on stage, backstage crew and the production team, including make-up and costumes, lighting and sound.

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