Review: Half a Sixpence − Get yer ‘at and cane and go see a spiffing good show!

PUBLISHED: 13:48 26 October 2017

Half A Sixpence.

Half A Sixpence.

Submitted

Flash, bang, wallop, what a performance when Weston Operatic Society’s production of Half A Sixpence opened at The Playhouse last night.

Half A Sixpence. Half A Sixpence.

The Weston-super-Mare theatre group might be classed as amateur but its 100 years plus of experience certainly spilled into its latest production ˗ a charming romp of a story accompanied by rousing songs and full-on dance routines, guaranteed to have audiences foot-tapping along, even if they don’t know the words.

The 40-strong cast put on a flawless performance, bringing the colourful Cockney characters to glorious life, each one giving it their all, despite some tricky and extremely fast footwork in the upbeat numbers.

Based on a novel by HG Wells called Kipps: The Story Of A Simple Soul, the tale centres around Arthur Kipps, an orphan working in a draper’s shop.

He and his childhood sweetheart Ann have two halves of a sixpence to act as a reminder of their feelings for each another.

But Kipps unexpectedly inherits a fortune which propels him into high society, with Ann forced to watch on as he becomes engaged to the classy Helen Walsingham.

The cast, aged from just 10 years old, were ably led by Cameron Isherwood, who shone as Arthur, and was easily identifiable as the loveable, if misguided Cockney geezer. His voice is a lovely balance of being sometimes powerful, yet not too much, and vulnerable and tender when needed – the perfect voice for musicals in fact. I feel 1960s pop legend Tommy Steele, who the musical was written to promote, would have approved of his contemporary’s portrayal of ‘his’ Arthur Kipps.

His sweetheart Ann is played by Leah Farmer who manages to perfectly balance the forthrightness of the gutsy waitress while also allowing the fragility of a character, who has also endured a tough upbringing, to show through.

The obligatory comic character of thespian Harry Chitterlow is played by Kevin Wheeler who flounced, jumped and minced across the stage with the fantastic flamboyance needed for such a part. He had the audience tittering along in all the right places and me in awe of him being able to jump off a high shop counter and carry on with the song!

The stiff upper lip brigade in the form of Mr Shalford and the Walsinghams were also very entertaining, with cast members Mike Hardy, Cheryl Stafford, Mairi Coyle and Richard Smith seemingly stepping straight out of Edwardian England onto the stage.

The remainder of the supporting cast, including the younger performers, were all brilliant, holding their characters well and singing and dancing their hearts out.

All in all, an exceptional feel-good show about remembering who you are and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to be forget their woes for a few hours and enjoy a jolly-good sing-a-long.

Half A Sixpence will be performed at The Playhouse, in High Street, until Saturday at 7.30pm, with a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday.

Tickets, priced £16.50-17.50, are available from www.westonsupersixpence.com

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