NODA Review of 'Half a Sixpence' - by Nova Horley
"A good production that was bright and lively. The cast looked as if they were enjoying themselves, with the ensemble numbers, although fairly short, keeping up the energy.
A rather strange show, not as good as the original version I always feel as so much of the story seems to have been glossed over, so more difficult to get to grips with – but Linda Dyne and Mike Payne made the most of it, and it became a rather charming production, helped along by very suitable choreography from Fleur Baikie.
Sound was fine throughout, although there were a couple of underscores that were a little louder than they needed to be, but I heard every word, spoken and sung. The lighting was sometimes a little suspect, particularly in scene 4, but overall it was suitable for the show.
I liked the Sixpence – it made a great backdrop and worked really well, tying in all the scenes to the main theme. The rest of the sets were well thought-out, accommodated the action and were set quickly, despite the fact there were a lot of scene changes.
I thought Tom Handley was an accomplished Kipps, getting understanding and humour from the character, with strength and poignancy in What Should I Feel? I liked what Tom did with the part and enjoyed his relationship with Ann.
Anna McDonald gave us a charmingly naive, but strong Ann – more feisty than normal, which really suited the character, and meant that she didn’t become overshadowed by Kipps – a first-class pairing.
David Crew was a gentle but upfront Chitterlow, a lovely part that he accomplished well, making the most of the humour of the man. David was also able to show his lovely voice in the musical numbers.
Costumes were good, but I did not like Chitterlow’s hat, it didn’t seem right for the part, Otherwise, I thought mostly everything was very suitable. I liked the ladies dresses, they all looked fresh and colourful, particularly Helen’s. Some wigs were a little too plentiful to accommodate hats well,
The children were charming, with Aine Dunwoodie and Ben Pulford speaking out really clearly as the young Ann and Kipps.
The shop boys (Adam Briffett, Howard Penning and Stephen Addison) and girls (Louise Thonger, Cheryl Evans and Stephanie Gimblett) all interacted well with each other, creating good relationships.
I liked Colette Eagles as Helen – she created a strong character, both tough but fragile, who dominated the Walsingham family in terms of portrayal. I thought Sean Scotchford as Young Walsingham didn’t really get the opportunity to show his unpleasant side, not quite sure why; whilst Jo Bayne as Mrs Walsingham needed to be more regal in her bearing.
Mr Shalford was portrayed really well by Nick Partington, another fine performance.
I enjoyed John Hope’s deckchair attendant, a small part, but it made an impact, especially the sigh and attitude as he went off stage.
Tom Pigram always draws the eye – he has a way of holding himself and performing, that always makes me enjoy watching him – he was well-paired with Fleur Baikie in Money to Burn, and the company seemed to match them in enthusiasm. Tom also has a very expressive face, which he uses to effect at all times.
Flash, Bang, Wallop is always a most enjoyable number, and this was no exception, great fun, and a number where the company can really enjoy themselves.
I liked the opening of Act 2, with No Need of Economy from the shop boys & girls, which was energetic, leading into the more reflective song from Kipps and Chitterlow.
Ann’s song I Know What I Am was both spirited and wistful with excellent diction and musicality.
Some good performances, a little over-shadowed by a less than appealing script, but overall an enjoyable and engaging show.
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