Words by Beverley Cross and Music by David Heneker
The Berry Theatre,
June 2016
Director: Tina Adams
Cast List
Mrs Walsingham
Young Kipps
Young Ann

Notes on this performance

127. Half a Sixpence

Half an audience…

Small summer audiences had been a problem for a long time and the preferred way of managing this had been to put on a G&S operetta thus avoiding royalties. However, since three G&S shows in a row would not appeal to all of the membership, it was thought wise to find a different solution this time and the decision was made to perform a popular musical in a cheaper theatre.

The Berry Theatre in Hedge End was chosen as a suitable venue (its hire charge was roughly half that of the Nuffield) but there was still a worry that regular followers might not make the move as well. Half a Sixpence was thought to be a musical that could attract good audiences and Tina Adams was happy to make it her SOS directing debut with Gillian Parry organising the choreography (with some input from Sarah Hogger) whilst Nigel Finch cleared his diary to serve as MD for the eleventh time. 

Half a Sixpence was written initially as a showcase for the talents of Tommy Steele so it was vital to have a strong lead to play the part of Kipps and the directing team was fortunate in having two on their hands as both Joseph Wright and Matthew Pike had previously played the role successfully in DYT productions. A further concern (not just for this show) was the lack of males as, when all the principal parts were allocated, the men’s chorus numbered just four!

Even bigger problems came from the theatre itself! The ink was barely dry on the contract when the owners declared that new legislation meant they had to charge VAT on everything and then five weeks before opening night, they discovered that the school connected to the theatre was holding an open evening that evening and SOS’s booking for the first performance was duly cancelled! The Chairs and Vice Chair renegotiated good terms for the Society (including having the theatre reprint all of the advertising material) but the loss of a performance was a disappointment to everyone.

Half a Sixpence features many set changes and they took a long time to perfect but fortunately, the performances from the principals did much to distract from this problem. The Echo review reflected this accurately, ‘Joseph Wright reprised the title-role as shop-assistant Artie Kipps, and a highly-impressive job he made of it, dominating the stage throughout every scene. In her first leading part, Rachel Stannik performed very well as Artie’s childhood sweetheart and the standard ran deep within the supporting cast. Lisa Axworthy shone as the snobby Mrs Walsingham, alongside Neil Maddock as her husband, Natasha Lingwood as the ultimately-jilted Helen with Mike Pavitt wonderfully over-acting as thespian Chitterlow. Tina Adams directed a colourful, lively show with all the popular ensemble numbers well-delivered, accompanied by Nigel Finch’s orchestra. Some clumsy scene-shifting and vocals were occasionally difficult to hear clearly but, overall, this was an enjoyable opening night.'

A well-attended summer show attracts over 1000 audience members but sadly only 545 came to enjoy Half a Sixpence at the Berry resulting in an unwelcome and undeserved loss of £2311.

Terry O'Farrell

 has16 1

                             Daniel Farrell (Sid), Matthew Pike (Pearce), Joseph Wright (Kipps), Paul Sawson-Plincke (Buggins)

has16 2

                                                          Rachel Stanikk (Ann) and Joseph Wright (Kipps)

has16 3

                                                      Mike Pavitt (Chitterlow) and Joseph Wright (Kipps)

has16 4

          Amanda Ward, Nicky Paterson, Gemma Nicholson, Li Wei with Joseph Wright (Kipps)

has16 5

Joseph Wright (Kipps) with Mark Allen (Shalford) watched by Daniel Farrell (Sid), Katy Lewis (Victoria), Matthew Pike (Pearce)

 has16 6

                        Natasha Lingwood (Helen), Neil Maddock (Walsingham), Lisa Axeworthy (Mrs Walsingham)

has16 7

                 Abi Jeffery (Kate), Katy Lewis (Victoria), Daniel Farrell (Sid), Sophie Barnard (Flo)