THEATRE
Noel Coward Theatre
St Martins Lane
London, WC2N 4AU
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SHOW TIMES
Opened: 29 Oct 2016
Booking from: 01 Sep 2017
Booking until: 02 Sep 2017
Duration: 2 hour 45 minutes (including an interval)
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  • beckyfitz 1 review 0 helpful votes
    100% total rating Half a Sixpence, 29th April 2017
    Honestly, I had never heard of this musical until it started getting nominated for awards all over the city. Even then, it didn't really strike me as something I wanted to see. So, when trying to kill some time last weekend, I went to the tkts booth in Leicester square and decided to find something cheap to watch. Half a Sixpence was the cheapest thing on the list and and I managed to get a seat 5 rows from the front in the centre of the stalls. Probably one of the best seats in the house. This surprisingly brilliant musical had me tapping my feet the whole way through. I was blown away. The story tells of a young man named Arthur Kipps as he tries to navigate between the worlds of the wealthy and the world he grew up in of the poor. After he inherits money from his late, estranged grandfather, Arthur dives into the extravagant parties with a woman that he met in an upscale department store. Arthur has to decide between his childhood love, or this new woman and her upscale life. The music, written by David Heneker, was captivating and really helped to tell the story. Paired with Andrew Wright's beautiful choreography, the musical numbers were consistently entertaining and energetic. Stand out numbers for me included Money to Burn, If the Rain's Got to Fall, and Pick out a Simple Tune. The strong ensemble made for captivating group numbers. Paul Brown's production design was also a standout of the show. The set, which included a large title of the show in lights (just like in fame) that you can see as soon as you step into the auditorium, was simple but perfect, very much like Arthur himself. The revolving platform was excellently used and the grand back wall pieces that set each scene made everything feel wealthy and expensive even though it was actually quite simple. The costumes were well designed as they often had colour palettes for a scene with Arthur standing out in something quite unique. They were all beautiful and really distinguished the class each character was in. Now, when I bought the ticket, the guy at the counter made a point of telling me that Charlie Stemp would not be performing as Arthur Kipps that evening. As I didn't know anything about the show or have any clue who Charlie Stemp was, I didn't mind. In fact, it meant I had the pleasure of seeing Sam O'Rourke take on the leading role. He was phenomenal. He was step perfect, never missed a beat, and I believed his character. The chemistry between him and actresses Emma Williams and Devon-Elise Johnson was undeniable. I am truly grateful I got to see him portray this taxing role. Other great performances included Emma Williams as the wealthy Helen Walsingham, Vivian Perry and Mrs. Walsingham, Alex Hope as Sid Pronick, and of course, Ian Bartholomew as Chitterlow. I would highly recommend this role to any musical theatre enthusiast. It is entertaining, energetic, and beautifully designed and will have you tapping your foot the whole way through.
    Sat in Stalls G10
    One of the best seats in the house. The only problem I had was the awkward angle of the seats meant standing up was a bit weird when people tried to get by as I was falling over the seat every time I tried to let people pass.
    G10 Stalls - Noel Coward Theatre - Seat Review & View Photo
    View from Stalls G10
  • amandareynolds 5"6 female 15 reviews 0 helpful votes
    60% total rating Half a Sixpence, 26th July 2017
    The use of the revolve stage really worked well to maximize space on the stage and the sets were really top-notch in detail and looked very well made. I especially liked the pub set and the use of the props for the inside of the grand houses worked well to create the illusion. It felt modern but old-style at the same time, not taking anything away from the original but just adding to it instead with some modern elements for example the projections and revolve. Costumes also were very authentic (I loved the colour of the dresses for the music evening scene) and suited the story line and choreography. Choreography by Andrew Wright was great and all the cast members were in time and looked like they were enjoying the routines. The energy in all of the routines was fantastic and it was clear that the performers were well trained and rehearsed in the role, even though there were a few understudies and swing members on. I especially enjoyed performances from Callum Train, Alex Hope and Rebecca Jayne Davis (understudy Ann). The audience were clearly enjoying it and laughing along. It was an uplifting show requiring little brain power on behalf of the viewer but was pure escapism, which sometimes is very much needed. One thing that did bug me was the accents. I come from Kent (very near to Folkstone) and no one here talks like that. I doubt they did in that time period either. The very over-pronounced cockney accent took a while to get on board with and I felt it made some of the songs a bit less clear. This is of course my personal opinion though and I am sure the cast were just doing as directed and their accents were held throughout. I am glad to have seen this before it closed. I can see why they have opted for more matinee shows to accommodate it’s slightly older/family orientated audience and can also see why it has already been extended twice. I am sure it will continue in some form in the future, possibly as a touring show. Unfortunately it hasn’t converted me to a classic musical theatre fan though. I still very much favor the modern, contemporary musical theatre shows.
    Sat in Stalls O11
    Amazing view of the stage. It felt close enough to see all of the action but not too close. Admittedly I had no one in the seat in front of me but I could see everything. Even with someone in front I think the view would be good as the rake is quite effective. The theatre is very old and the seats are comfortable for a short stay. The leg room is ok but not very generous. Maybe get an aisle seat if you have longer legs.
    O11 Stalls - Noel Coward Theatre - Seat Review & View Photo
    View from Stalls O11
  • braintree 155cm female 34 reviews 5 helpful votes
    80% total rating Half a Sixpence, 10th November 2016
    I went in to Half a Sixpence not knowing much except that Tommy Steele had been in the original 1963 production (it was one of the last British productions to go to Broadway before the 1970s-1980s dominance of Andrew Lloyd Webber) and my boyfriend had sung the title song at me. As stories go it is a rags to riches tale about the value of money, class and love. Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps is fantastic; charming, handsome but with a naivety about women and status. When he finds he’s been left a fortune he gets close to Helen Walsingham (Emma Williams), a teacher who had showed him kindness when he was a draper’s assistant in the local haberdashery. He still has feelings for his childhood sweetheart, Ann (Devon-Elise Johnson), who works as a parlour maid. I really enjoyed the scenes with Kipps’ work mates and there is fantastic support from the social climbing Mrs Walsingham (Vivien Parry) and her dodgy son James (Gerard Carey). It is a very old fashioned story and an old fashioned musical; huge choreographed numbers and tune after tune after tune with revisions of the old production with new songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who collaborate with Half a Sixpence adaptator Julian Fellowes on upcoming The Wind and The Willows at The London Palladium. What struck me after seeing shows like The Lion King and School of Rock recently was the lack of diversity and refusal (with the exception of the projections) for many modern elements. It feels like it has been staged at it would have been in the 1960s. As a result, the audience for this seems quite limited, it is fun show but it seems aimed at a certain generation and it feels very different to many of London’s current musicals and you can feel every inch of what an epic production this must have been in the 1960s but now feels a bit dated. Its strength is not the music but the story and the performances. Alongside Stemp (this feels like a breakout role) there is strong support from Ian Bartholomew as Kipps’ playwright friend Chitterlow and whose musical theatre experience, along with Emma Williams’, really shines through. It feels very lush and you will come out feeling delighted you went but my main recommendation would be as a seasonal show to take grandparents and parents rather than a group of young friends.
    Sat in Stalls Q18
    Really good view, close but not stretching and it is a very comfortable seat.
    Q18 Stalls - Noel Coward Theatre - Seat Review & View Photo
    View from Stalls Q18
  • alanplastine 175cm male 1 review 0 helpful votes
    100% total rating Half a Sixpence, 11th February 2017
    This is a great show that I'd wanted to see after reading all the rave reviews and watching the various video trailers. Having watched the Tommy Steele original movie as a child I could only remember part of the story and how he was dominant in all the singing numbers. I really appreciate that the producers and creators of this show have spent time working on how to bring some of the other characters to the forefront and allow them to shine. The classic songs are there from the title song to Flash, Bang, Wallop (which I defy anyone not to come out singing or join in stamping their feet and clapping along) and if the rain's got to fall to the new additions. The stand out song for me has to be "Pick out a simple tune" with it's simple lyrics and as the name suggests simple tune, perhaps it's because it becomes such an ear worm it will be in your head for days! The cast are really energetic especially the leads which is a feat doing some of the dance moves alongside singing and not looking out of breath. We didn't get to see Charlie Stemp on this occasion, however his understanding was able to carry the part strongly. The low moments or weaker songs are few and far between, which is refreshing as some shows can litter a whole act with drab numbers relying solely on their big showstopper or end of act scenes to carry the whole show. If your looking for a good old fashioned musical with catchy tunes and strong cast to take you away from the here and now to a simpler time then go see this for a real feel good experience.
    Sat in Stalls L7
    Good view of the stage slightly off-centre but not so you would notice at this distance from the stage. You can clearly see all the action and expressions on the actors faces and unlike other side seats the flys are obscured so you don't spend a lot of the show watching what is going on off stage. Seat rows are positioned so that hopefully you see through the gaps in the rows in front and even with taller patrons your view is not obscured. The seats are OK for comfort and certainly pleasant enough to sit in for the duration of the show. The legroom is adequate for average height (I am 5'9") and didn't leave me with any cramp. Though as has been noted by other reviews the gangway is quite narrow so only real option is to stand when letting others pass by to get to their seats.
    L7 Stalls - Noel Coward Theatre - Seat Review & View Photo
    View from Stalls L7
HALF A SIXPENCE SEATING PLAN
The Stalls are by far the best section if you want to be absorbed in this fantastic new musical, however beware of the very front Rows AA-B as you may be craning your neck and not be able to see the back of the stage that well. The best seats are in rows F-M and this is often reflected in the price, with Rows P and backwards being overhung by the circle.

The upper levels of the theatre can all offer better value for money alternatives, however the Balcony can feel quite distant and seats to the ends of rows can give quite a side on view.
Noel Coward Theatre, London interactive seating plan & seat reviews
STORY
Half a Sixpence transferred to London’s West End following a hugely successful revival at the Chichester Festival Theatre. The show began performances on 29th October 2016, having had its official opening on 17th November 2016 and will run until 2nd September 2017.

Half a Sixpence is the classic musical version of H.G. Wells’ novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul which is a veiled autobiography of his unhappy apprentice at a Drapery Emporium.

This new show is a completely new adaptation written by Julian Fellowes. Fellowes is a much loved actor and writer, best known for being the creator and screenwriter of the hugely popular ITV period drama Downton Abbey and the 2001 film Gosford Park. Fellowes has seen countless stage successes, working on shows such as School of Rock – The Musical, The Wind in The Willows and Mary Poppins.

The musical follows the tale of Arthur Kipps, a poor orphan who has a hard life as draper’s assistant in the early 1900s. Although ordinary, he is a charming young man, who dreams of a nice and more fulfilling world.

When he surprisingly becomes heir to a fortune, he is propelled into the upper class society and everything he knew about life becomes unstable, as he wrestles with his identity and relationships.

This new stage version is created by an acclaimed creative team, including reuniting bookwriter Julian Fellows with Anthony Drewe and George Styles, the musical team that were first put together by co-creator and producer Cameron Mackintosh when creating their acclaimed stage adaptation of Mary Poppins. A vibrant new score has been created by the team, featuring several of the most loved original songs.

The show first opened at the Chichester Festival Theatre to great acclaim, with its entire original cast having transferred for the West End production at the Noel Coward Theatre. Charlie Stemp takes the lead role as Arthur Kipps, with Devon-Elise Johnson as Ann Pornick, Ian Batholomew as Chitterlow and Emma Williams as Helen Walsingham.

Half a Sixpence began performances at the Noel Coward Theatre in London’s West End on 29th October 2016, with an official opening on 17th November 2016 and is currently set to run until 2nd September 2017.
SUITABLE FOR
Half a Sixpence is a beautiful revival of a classic musical, brought up to date by one of theatre’s greatest creative teams. If you loved previous classic musical revivals such as Show Boat at the New London Theatre you should definitely check this out. With Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows behind it, you can expect the very highest quality.

Age Recommendations: May not be suitable for very young children
PHOTOS AND VIDEO