Half a Sixpence

Book by Beverly Cross; Music & Lyrics by David Heneker; New Version by Warner Brown
Based on the novel Kipps by H. G. Wells
Sunderland Empire & Touring
(2008)

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A man in his fifties dancing and singing on stage in a musical that has been dusted off the classics shelf? Tempting enough to make a trip out in the cold and gale force winds? The singing dancing man is tempting, yes; the classic sadly no!

Warner Brown admits to having to "blow the dust off" this classic musical with his "new version". With the addition of a few musical numbers and a faster flow between scenes, the dust has only been rearranged not removed. Half A Sixpence is still dated - maybe that's the way classics should stay!

The choreography by Jason Pennycooke is also very dated and basic. There is no Flash, Bang or Wallop in the routines, giving very little energy or pizzazz!

With a set design by Alexander McPherson, Sixpence looks pretty and has a great nostalgic feel. Simple but effective sets come and go so smoothly, making scene changes slick and passing with great ease, helping give the show a nice pace.

Direction by Bob (Blood Brothers) Thompson has moments of good light comedy, depth and emotion. Those moments are only 40% compared to the 60% of flat energyless scenes. Some of the supporting characters are left cold with not enough to do, so when Kipps isn't involved with them directly the scene drops.

The singing and dancing man in his fifties playing the part of Kipps is none other than old school musical star Gary Wilmot (sex symbol to my 28 year old girlfriend). Wilmot knows his craft very well, great in voice, movement and comedy timing. He has a smile that can light up any stage and boy, he lit it up with the amazing number What Should I Feel?, bringing the house down!

Sixpence falls short of the mark against other great musicals currently back on tour. Without a star like Wilmot it would struggle to hold many audiences.

John Johnson reviewed this production at the Derngate Theatre, Northampton, as did Philip Seager at the Lyceum, Sheffield

Reviewer: Wayne Miller