Kipps -The New Half a Sixpence.

Date 18th May 2023
Society Tinkers Farm Opera Company
Venue Stourbridge Town Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director and Choreographer Emma Harley
Choreography Val Harley
Musical Director/Conductor Ian Hayward
Musical Director/Accompanist Simon Wilkinson
Stage Manager Steve Percy

Report

Author: Dave Brown

I first discovered the wonderful character of Kipps through my love of H.G Wells at school. I was also fortunate enough to catch this new muscial adaptation in the West End at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2017.

I learnt from the programme, the director and choreographer of this production, Emma Harley, also saw this new adaptation in the West End. I totally agree with you Emma, I fell in love with it as well. It is a show that strangely sticks with you and I would quite often find myself randomly humming, “clatter, jang a rang a dang” with no warning whatsoever.

It is a story of a “simple soul” who inherits a lot of money, but through a journey of discovery realises that having money is not as important as true love. However, Kipps finds himself torn between two women with two different lifestyles, even with Money to Burn he finds the strength to remain to his roots and is reminded what is important to him.

I was naturally excited to see Tinkers Farm Opera (TFO) take on this musical, not only had it been a short while since I got my fix of this show, but it would be my first time seeing TFO in full musical action in a bigger venue away from their church hall production of Hi-De-Hi (Nominated NODA Award 2022).

I was absolutely not disappointed, the members of TFO showed incredible versatility and talent and proved they were able to meet the epic production value and standard of a show of this nature. It felt so good to see this show unfold with the quality, conviction and energy it required and I remained in awe as the incredibly talented actors engaged with their characters and kept the pace and energy of the story going. There were many moments where it was obvious the members had worked very hard to achieve the desired result and the stage was rarely without genuine smiles of optimism and love for each other; the teamwork was very evident on and off stage. It honestly felt like every single TFO member played a massive part in creating this production and all gave the impression that they were effortlessly in tune with each other. Congratulations to everyone at TFO for such a brilliant production. 

The show begins with actors Liam Cox and Martha Crump playing a Young Arthur Kipps and a Young Ann Pornick and it was this lovely little start which set the nice playful tone of the show. The physicality of the characters of both Young Arthur and Young Ann was wonderful, innocent and sweet. Especially the sword fight. Then the inevitable happened, they both grew up and faced a very different world becoming part of the dreaded routine. However, deep down they still held a connection symbolising true friendship, love and living. Having a connection where one person truly knows and accepts you for who you are is of course amazing and of course it takes a little while for Kipps to realise this as he is being swept into a world he thinks he wants.

Richard Cooper was instantly likable as the adult character of Arthur Kipps. The best moments (and there were many) came from the clear direction where the character was heading on his journey, from rags to riches to rags again. Richard was a genuinely amazing choice to play Kipps and his performance was consistently awesome. It was also quite brilliant how Richard gave so much to others around him but remained strong with his own performance. 

Rebecca Bate performed the adult character of Ann Pornick, Arthur's childhood friend and sweetheart who reminded Kipps of a sincere and simpler time. Rebecca was an excellent casting choice, with a lovely singing voice. Rebecca beautifully brought out some great dynamics with her reactions and portrayed her emotion with genuine feeling.

So, Ann Pornick loves Arthur Kipps dearly, but Helen Walsingham who was played by Beth Siviter-Coupland also loves Arthur. Arthur thinks he loves Helen. Helen's Mother Mrs Walsingham played by Barbara Hayward however, loves the idea of Arthur and his new found fortune. 
Whilst, James Walsingham played by the brilliant Alex Catana, loves himself and gets what he deserves when he tries to con Arthur.
Alex portrayed a perfectly sinister performance of James Walsingham with his motives. I especially liked the scene when James Walsingham took to the organ in frantic competition with Arthur at a dinner party which showed a lot about his true personality. 

Barbara Hayward (Mrs Walsingham) and Beth Siviter-Coupland (Helen Walsingham) worked really well together in their acting relationship as Mother and Daughter. Helen showed genuine reactions of concern and conflict when her mother blatantly started to financial abuse her potential future son in law; but, Mrs Walsingham, remained totally selfish and showed no remorse to anybody’s feelings but her own, as long as she achieved her status in society. A wonderful performance full of strong moments from both.

Beth Siviter-Coupland was again another perfect casting choice and a strong choice to play Helen Walsingham. Beth showed tonight she is a very talented performer and there were many moments where there was the right amount of instinct, presence and awareness which remained strong and in tune throughout the show.

Another great performance which stood out was the character of Lady Punnet, played by Di Hingley. Lady Punnet remained supportive and fair despite her status in society, showing that money does not need to make you a selfish person.

All Arthur really desired if he had money to burn was a banjo. He was also quite happy with spending some of his new fortune on a few presents for his friends. This shows how thoughtful he is with his new found wealth. I especially liked the dynamics and the friendships of Arthurs friends and co-workers of Shalford’s Draper Store, which I think is a very important chemistry to get right.  Food loving Buggins, played wonderfully by Simon Wilkinson, Sid Pornick, who was also Ann's brother which made for some interesting themes about loyalty and family, portrayed very well by Tyrone Howell and Pierce brilliantly played by Alex Thompson were all marvellous actors and a great combination of talent. The star in this little group of friends, however, was the character of Flo Evans, played by Megan Smith. Megan was Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant!

Arthur’s boss, Mr Shalford, a classic, stern, money-orientated character played by Tony Daniels, ran a tight ship. So, when Arthur came in unusually late and a little hung over, he was made an example out of and he was fired. But as fate would suggest Arthur gets knocked over on a bike by Chitterlow who then goes on to tell Arthur he has inherited a large sum of money. Mr Shalford's tone and manner certainly changed into a little regret when he found out this.

Matthew Morgan played the character of Chitterlow with tremendous and glorious gusto. His performance was one of absolute joy to watch. A very strong performance indeed full of energy. 

Other performers who totally deserve a mention and helped create this successful and very entertaning evening are as follows, Joshua Hawkins, Tracey Foden, James Hale, Dominic Butters, Lily Fradley, John Cooper, Harry Coupland, Bernadette Wilkinson and Elizabeth Attfield. 

The chorography was marvellous. The songs, “Believe in Yourself”, “Just a Few Little Things”, “Flash, Bang, Wallop!” and the ensemble piece “Pick Out a Simple Tune” were personal highlights of mine. Congratulations to super talented Director and Choreographer Emma Harley, Musical Directors, Ian Hayward and Simon Wilkinson and the really talented orchestra.

The next show coming soon from Tinkers Farm Opera is “Allo Allo” by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft on 19th- 21st October 2023 at Clent Parish Hall followed by “Guys and Dolls” in 2024, showing on 15th-18th May 2024 at Stourbridge Town Hall. Follow these links to secure your tickets which will be on sale soon.

www.seaty.co.uk/alloallo and www.seaty.co.uk/gad

Many thanks for your extremely kind invitation tonight. Congratulations again and I wish you all the best for future.