Half A Sixpence

 

CAST LIST

PRODUCTION TEAM

               
Arthur Kipps Shane Hervey Chittlerlow Tony Wall Emma Anna Chidgey Director Will Harris
Ann Pornick Jacky Davis Mr Shalford Ian Akhurst Kate Zoe Pattemore Musical Director Pam Akhurst
Pearce Steve Leitch Mrs Walsingham Laurie Bright Mrs Botting Rosemary Minchin Choreographer Valerie Brooham
Sid Pornick Iain Fulton Young Walsingham Matt Beavis Carshott Brian Minchin    
Buggins Lewis Wilmott Flo Bates Jo Cullen        
Helen Walsingham Sarah Jane Smith Victoria Nicola Minchin     Photography Doug Spooner

 

NODA

Theo Spring 

 

What a wonderfully colourful production. The costumes were outstanding and I must congratulate the hard-working team of Barbara Windsor and Yvonne Mount yet again for their period accuracy, their blend of schemes and the freshness, and the all-round wow-factor which they gave the show.

More excellence came in the form of the programme which is clearly designed and shows of everyone to their best advantage. I particularly liked the setting of the principal's photographs within an actual sixpence. I note that STR Design and Print are responsible for the actual creation, but I wonder whose idea the sixpences were. The individual photographs of the ensemble give another good page and the layout for each of the Acts, together with the musical numbers is very good. I even liked the quite fussy typeface used! The biogs of the principals are informative and interesting and the whole thing looks really good.

I had not had a chance to read any of these notes before the curtain went up and, at the beginning, I was a little unsure about Kipps, and Shane Hervey's ability to carry this important pivotal role through. A good, true singing voice is to his credit, but he gave most of his solos quite a soft volume. It was only after the interval that I discovered that Shane is only 16 (his stature of stage belies this) and for a 16 year old, he did extremely well indeed. Noting his stage experience and his hopes for the future, I have no doubt that he will soon be a commanding performer. 

Jacky Davis has often done WODS proud. She is a real find, with an accomplished singing voice and good stage presence. Her interpretation of Ann Pornick held just the right combination of independence and affection, and I really enjoyed the parlour maid scene with the dropped champagne, and the following contrast, in the kitchen. It seemed that, in their duets, she gave Kipps confidence, and his own vocal ability increased, as it seemed to whenever he sung with others - be it individuals or the chorus.

All the shop assistants conjured up the old fashioned draper's establishment well. The three young (?) men were sprightly and comical, with Iain Fulton adding the odd bit of doom and gloom with his political hat on. Steve Leitch was obsequious at the door, ushering the customers in and out and Lewis Wilmott brought good stage-craft to his role as Buggins, where he certainly helped to keep the action going when it flagged a little. 

Two new recruits and two stalwarts made up the shop girls - all very good in their roles and audibly adding to the musical numbers in which they appeared. All four combined their talents to become a team in the shop, whilst showing individual characteristics in their roles once let out to play. 

Ian Akhurst brought a taste of strict Victorian discipline to Mr Shalford's emporium, albeit looking very dapper in his costume. A good character study and delivery. Brian Minchin as Carshot showed his admiration of Shalford - obviously wishing to emulate him where possible.

Tony Wall was larger than life as Chitterlow - a perfect part for him. It was an interesting duo - the young, budding actor of Hervey with the very experienced Wall - making a charming twosome for The One Who's Run Away.

Moving to the upper classes, with such gracious costumes how could the Walsingham's be anything other than elegant. I so enjoyed Laurie Bright's Mrs Walsingham - a part which fitted her like a glove where she used her myriad facial expressions to become the quintessential snob. Matt Beavis went appropriately OTT with the vowel sounds as Young Walsingham, and incorporated some subtle Uriah Heap moves into his role too. Sarah Jane Smith made a charming Helen Walsingham - looking lovely, singing beautifully and adding realism to her affection for Kipps. Rosemary Minchin added more toff tittle-tattle as the employer-from-hell Mrs Botting.

WODS chorus work is always of a high quality and this show was no different. The voices were on top form, their work with Valerie Brooham's lively choreography was slick and they always looked interested in whatever was happening. I did find the direction which made them suddenly converge on stage in a few of the numbers a little disconcerting, but appreciate their need to be there. May I single out the bubbly Tracey Paice for commendation on her role in the pub and as a lively member of the chorus.

A small comment for the hardworking backstage team which may a seem a little unjust bearing in mind all they did to keep the pace of the show flowing, but all the table cloths were wonky. I know scenes are set in a hurry, but the lovely set for The Rented House and Ann's lament I Know What I Am were delivered around a table with a lovely deep plush cloth which, being skewed, showed less than grand table legs.

Flash, Bang, Wallop, was a real centre-price (well, off centre-piece in its position in the show I suppose), with the Romeo and Juliet depiction stealing the limelight.

The orchestra sounded a little hesitant in some of the numbers on the first night but Pam Akhurst brought much magic to the show's well-known songs.

With Half a Sixpence, director Will Harris can add another notch to his growing line of successful plays and musicals - WODS are fortunate to have his excellent knowledge within the society.

Congratulations to you all.