REVIEW: Half A Sixpence ★★★★★ – Noel Coward Theatre

“…a glorious, quintessentially English, dance extravaganza”


West End Theatre Guide



Half A Sixpence is a musical based on the novel by H G Wells entitled ‘Kipps’. This adaptation (the second version of the musical) was written by Julian Fellowes, with music by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (retaining some of the original score by David Heneker).

Half A Sixpence follows the story of a young Arthur Kipps who unexpectedly inherits a fortune from his estranged grandfather and is elevated into high society. A love triangle emerges and Arthur must choose between his childhood friend, parlour maid, Ann Pornick, and well-to-do young lady, Helen Walsingham.

Class and wealth are strong themes throughout the musical. Arthur is out of place and uncomfortable amongst the upper classes and keeps making social gaffs, but the rich townspeople of Foxton are still eager to associate with him given his newfound fortune. Arthur is indeed ‘A Proper Gentleman’ but only in theory and, comically, not in practice.

Arthur has grown up with a love of the simple things in life, simple people the same as him and he remains a simple man at heart. He becomes smitten by Helen mainly because she is a lady, however, her attempts to improve his speech and manners are hopeless and ultimately lead to him never feeling comfortable with her.

After this temporary distraction, Arthur’s affections return to his childhood friend, Ann, when she returns the half of sixpence he gave her before he left for work. This brings the musical in a full circle: beginning with Arthur and Ann as promised sweethearts, and ending with their union.

Charlie Stemp (Mamma Mia, Wicked) led the cast as Arthur Kipps and gave a superb performance, particularly with ‘She’s Too Far Above Me’. Devon-Elise Johnson (Mamma Mia, Saturday Night Fever, Spring Awakening) was excellent in the role of Ann Pornick, and Emma Williams (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mrs Henderson Presents, Zorro) gave a classy and elegant performance as Helen.

The cast perform Andrew Wright’s outstanding choreography to perfection, delivering back-to-back, high-energy dance numbers, including, ‘Look Alive’, ‘Pick Out a Simple Tune’, ‘The Joy of the Theatre’ and ‘Flash, Bang, Wallop’.

Half A Sixpence is a glorious, quintessentially English, dance extravaganza, with seamless, on point dance numbers, a lively and upbeat musical score, and a cast of immaculate performers.

Half A Sixpence is booking until 2nd September 2017 at the Noel Coward Theatre when it will close (to book tickets, click here). For more information on your visit to the Noel Coward Theatre, read our guide.