Half a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre | Review

Half A Sixpence is just what the West End needs

Half a Sixpence is an oh so British musical which really packs a punch. 

Half a Sixpence
Noel Coward Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 17th
 November 2016 by Olivia Mitchell

Whilst this production, opening for the first time in 50 years, is technically described as a revival, I would say its more of a reinvention. With 80% new material including a new score by Stiles and Drewe and a new book by Julian Fellowes, the show is brought into the 21st century in a refreshing and exciting way.

We follow the story of Arthur Kipps who mysteriously inherits a large sum of money and suddenly finds himself flung into a world of garden parties and riches, a far cry from his childhood days in the countryside with his best girl Ann. Caught in between two worlds and two women, Arthur must decide whether he wants half a sixpence or a fortune.

The plot is somewhat simplistic and predictable which is beautiful but annoying at the same time. Of course simplicity is lovely because it makes it easy to follow and really puts the emphasis on the music and choreography but there were some moments which I would have liked to delve deeper into; such as the mysterious uncle, but overall its a sweet story full of joy and humour.

The set is very simple, with a revolving stage supplemented with decorative additions and projections throughout which work wonderfully to move seamlessly between the changing scenes of the show, from bar, to beach, to garden party and more! This simple staging allows Andrew Wright's choreography to be a focal point of the show. The energetic dances create absolute elation throughout and every fresh faced member of the 24 strong  cast put their all into every step, creating a truly mesmorising sight. Of course the show favourite "Flash, Bang, Wallop" was a standout, with a standing ovation and smattering of applause beginning as soon as the last note was sung.

The entire cast are sublime and completely faultless. Ian Bartholomew is hilarious as the larger than life Mr Chitterlow, bringing out some of the biggest laughs of the night, especially through "The Joy of the Theatre" which felt like a big wink to all us press members sat in the audience! Bethany Huckle is fabulous as the sweet but strong-minded Flo who has fabulous chemistry with each character she interacts with. Helen Walshingham is vulnerable, graceful and tiny bit malicious but Emma Williams manages to make us understand why she makes every decision through her clear and well thought out portrayal.

Obviously the ultimate stand out of the show is the exceptional Charlie Stemp who must have a Best Actor in a Musical award waiting for him in the near future. From the moment we witness his charming, boyish grin, we fall in love with Arthur Kipps. Charlie is a true triple threat star, and its a joy to see him shine on stage in moments of humour and love as well as more serious times. Charlie's voice is beautiful, his dancing is effortless and he is just charming. He makes each move quirky and charismatic and absolutely fantastic. Keep your eye on this man because he is going to be a star for a long time!

Half a Sixpence is exciting, infectious, joyful, glistening and a billion other things. Its most definitely a show you should go and see and a production worth far more than half a sixpence! Experience the joy of the theatre and book tickets for this show which is running at the Noel Coward theatre.