A very comprehensive resume of this new version of ‘Half a Sixpence’ was included in the programme so I need not add anything to it. This new version has the old, familiar songs as well as the new ones written by George Styles and Anthony Drewe.
The musical is a vehicle for one man – Kipps – and in that role Chris Taylor had it all. His acting and dancing were particularly good and his singing voice was pleasant to listen to. He looked the part too and was a pleasure to watch on stage. Occasionally his speaking voice became like Michael Crawford’s in ‘Some Mothers do Have’em’. But it didn’t detract from his all-round first rate performance.
As his first girlfriend Ann Pornick, Ellie Blythe was just lovely. Self-deprecating but showing that she had spirit in the second act when she sees what’s happening to Kipps. She was perfect for the character and her acting and singing were excellent.
Tara Cimino, in the role of the would-be Mrs Kipps, was also praiseworthy. She was suitably ‘upper class’ and attempted to educate Kipps so that he would fit into her social circle. In this day and age when grooming and manipulating are to the forefront of unpleasant behavioural traits it was a little uncomfortable to watch the small changes that resulted in her corrections.
A strong performance from Aileen as Mrs Walsingham, who did her best to like Kipps in light of his inherited fortune, and her efforts to do this afforded some wonderful facial expressions.
Playing Chitterlow Julian Hirst had great stage presence and projected
I’ve not seen Tom play a serious part before and he did it effortlessly. His timing was first rate and his demeanour of a spoiled and rather shady young man was convincing.
Notable too was Louisa Skinner as Lady Punnet. She portrayed an understanding gentlewoman with none of the snobbishness of Mrs Walsingham – the difference in their characters was very nicely pointed.
The young friends of Kipps, assistants at the Drapers Store were played respectively by Owen Brasted (Sid Pornick), Sophie Smith (Flo Evans), Harry Rodgman (Buggins) and Tom Brierly (Pierce). They were all commendable in their individual roles and worked together really well on stage, adding greatly to the show.
Mike made a very credible Mr Shalford the straight-lacedowner of the drapers and Nigel was particularly good as the Photographer.
Artemis Reed led his small group of five musicians from behind the scenes and I wonder if that had an impact on the resulting sound. Some of the numbers seemed a little ‘thin’ and the score appeared to offer little support for the vocalist in one or two of the songs. However he had clearly worked hard with the cast and all of the songs came across wonderfully.
‘Flash, Bang, Wallop’ was terrific and other stand-out musical numbers were ‘Money to Burn’ and ‘Pick Out a Simple Tune’. ‘Build a House’ too was notable.
Charlie’s choreography was super – full of interest and energy. I really don’t know how the cast managed to sing after/during such a physical work-out!
Jack’s Stage Direction was impressive. The simple setting of the trucks which were used as beds, counters and bar was simple and effective and I liked that the cast moved them into place. Chorus groupings were interesting and attractive.
The ladies costumes in both acts were beautiful and suitable for the period. The gentlemen’s costumes were good too – some shoes could have been a bit shinier.
Furniture and properties were also appropriate.
Sound and Lighting by MC Production Group was good and the sound effects of rain and the lightening were most realistic.
Your programme is nicely presented and with plenty of interest but to enter the Poster/Programme competition you need to include a short write up on NODA, so on this occasion I can’t suggest that you forward it for consideration.
There was a large chorus in the musical and all of them are experienced on stage. The result was that the production team and the cast together delivered a most polished and enjoyable musical. There was enormous energy throughout the show and it was a splendid evening’s entertainment.
It was good to meet Jack again and also Charlie. Nigel also met me in the foyer to receive the 2019 NODA award.
Thank you for your hospitality on the evening and good luck with your next production – I look forward to visiting you at a new venue for the Cabaret.
I wish all of you at Hatton Musical Theatre a very happy Christmas and healthy 2023. It’ll be here before we know it!
E. Gloria Smith
NODA SE Regional Representative- District 12.