Half a Sixpence

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Half a Sixpence
Half a Sixpence.jpg
Official Broadway Cast recording cover art
Music David Heneker
Lyrics David Heneker
Book Beverley Cross
Basis H.G. Wells's novel Kipps
Productions 1963 West End
1965 Broadway
1967 Film
2008 UK Tour
2016 Chichester Festival Theatre
2016 West End revival

Half a Sixpence is a musical comedy based on the novel Kipps by H. G. Wells, with music and lyrics by David Heneker and book by Beverley Cross. It was written as a vehicle for British pop star Tommy Steele.

Background[edit]

The show is based on H.G. Wells's novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul. Steele played Arthur Kipps, an orphan who unexpectedly inherits a fortune, and climbs the social ladder before losing everything and realizing that you just can't buy happiness.

David Heneker (who had also worked on Irma La Douce and Charlie Girl) wrote both music and lyrics. Steele's importance to the show was made evident by his appearance in twelve of the musical's fifteen songs. Much of this musical was tailored as a star vehicle for Steele's particular talents which was especially evident in the musical number "Money to Burn": when Arthur Kipps realises that he is about to become wealthy, he decides that the first thing he will buy is a banjo. This is the cue for someone to hand Tommy Steele a banjo so that he can demonstrate his skill on the instrument. However, in Wells's novel, one of the first things that Arthur Kipps purchases with his newfound wealth is, indeed, a banjo.

Productions[edit]

London[edit]

Half a Sixpence was first produced in London's West End at the Cambridge Theatre on 21 March 1963, with Marti Webb, in her first leading role, playing Ann. Anna Barry also appeared as Helen. The production was directed by John Dexter, with choreography by Edmund Balin, and the set was designed by Loudon Sainthill. It ran for 677 performances.[1]

Broadway[edit]

The show opened on Broadway in 1965, playing at the Broadhurst Theatre for 511 performances, also starring Steele. John Cleese played a small role of Walsingham, the stockbroker from a respectable family who embezzles Kipps' fortune. Half a Sixpence was the last West End show to transfer successfully to New York City before the late 1970s and early 1980s musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Film version[edit]

A 1967 film adaptation starring Steele, along with Julia Foster and Cyril Ritchard, was directed by George Sidney and choreographed by Gillian Lynne. Lesley Judd, a future presenter of the BBC children's TV series Blue Peter, was one of the dancing chorus. Foster's singing voice was dubbed by Marti Webb.[1]

"I'm Not Talking To You", which had been excluded from the Broadway score, was subsequently reinstated for the film. Two new songs were also written: "Lady Botting's Boating Regatta Cup Racing Song (The Race is On)" and "This is My World".

2016 revised version[edit]

A revised version of the show opened at the Chichester Festival Theatre to rave reviews and standing ovations in July 2016, co-produced by Cameron Mackintosh. Reuniting Mackintosh's Mary Poppins collaborators, the show features a new book by Julian Fellowes and new songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe alongside revisions of Heneker's originals.[2] The cast included Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps, Devon-Elise Johnson as Ann Pornick and Emma Williams as Helen Walsingham.

Following the success in Chichester, the production transferred to the Noel Coward Theatre in London's West End on 17 November 2016 with previews from 29 October 2016. It is currently booking until 11 February 2017.[3] Due to five-star reviews and audience acclaim, the show has since extended through 22 April 2017. [4] It has since been extended, once again, through 6 May 2017. It extended again until 2 September 2017, when it will close.[5][6]

Songs[edit]

2016 West End Production[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1965 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Producer Allen-Hodgdon, Stevens Productions Inc. and Harold Fielding Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Tommy Steele Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical James Grout Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Carrie Nye Nominated
Best Original Score David Heneker Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Gene Saks Nominated
Best Choreography Onna White Nominated

2016 West End Revival[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2017 Whatsonstage.com Awards Best New Musical Nominated
Best Actor in a Musical Charlie Stemp Won
Best Actress in a Musical Devon-Elise Johnson Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Ian Bartholomew Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Emma Williams Won
Best Direction Rachel Kavanaugh Nominated
Best Choreography Andrew Wright Won
Best Costume Design Paul Brown Nominated
2017 Laurence Olivier Awards Best Actor in a Musical Charlie Stemp Pending
Best Actor in Supporting Role in a Musical Ian Bartholomew Pending
Best Actress in Supporting Role in a Musical Emma Williams Pending

Recordings[edit]

  • Half a Sixpence: An Original Cast Recording - Decca SLK4521 (1963)[1]
  • Half a Sixpence: The Original Broadway Cast Recording - RCA Victor LOC1110 (1965)[1]

References[edit]

External links[edit]