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Half a Sixpence to close in September

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE Chichester Festival Theatre production of Half a Sixpence will close at the Noel Coward Theatre at the end of its current booking period, September 2, 2017.

In a statement, the show’s producer Cameron Mackintosh said: “I’m delighted that this new Half A Sixpence has been greeted so rapturously by audiences and critics and discovered a new star in Charlie Stemp.

“It is most gratifying that this long neglected David Heneker and Beverley Cross musical, brilliantly re-written by Julian Fellowes, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, now has a new lease of life with interest for several other productions in discussion.”

Previously Posted: The Chichester Festival Theatre production of Half a Sixpence is transferring to the West End – to the Noel Coward Theatre where it opens on November 17, 2016, following preview performances from October 29.

Half A Sixpence is the iconic British musical adaptation of H.G. Wells’s disguised autobiographical novel Kipps: The Story Of A Simple Soul, based on the author’s unhappy apprenticeship as a draper at Hyde’s Drapery Emporium in Southsea.

This new stage version of the novel is a completely fresh adaptation by Julian Fellowes, Oscar-winning screenwriter and creator of Downton Abbey.

Arthur Kipps, an orphan, is an over-worked draper’s assistant at Shalford’s Bazaar, Folkestone, at the turn of the last century. He is a charming but ordinary young man who, along with his fellow apprentices, dreams of a better and more fulfilling world, but he likes his fun just like any other, except not quite.

When Kipps unexpectedly inherits a fortune that propels him into high society, it confuses everything he thought he knew about life. Watching him wrestle with his new identity is his childhood companion and not-quite girlfriend, Ann Pornick, who sees with dismay how Arthur is being made over in a new image by the beautiful and classy Helen Walsingham. She is always there with helpful hints on how Arthur could improve himself and make his life richer and more meaningful, if only he would believe in himself, and listen to her.

Both Ann and Helen love Arthur – there is no doubt about that – but who should he listen to? With the help of his friends, Arthur learns that if you want to have the chance of living the right life, you need to make the right choices.

This new stage version of Half A Sixpence reunites Julian Fellowes with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the musical team that co-creator Cameron Mackintosh first put together to create the stage adaptation of Mary Poppins with Disney. They have written an exuberant score that is inspired by and features several of composer David Heneker’s memorable songs from the original production, which he co-wrote with Beverley Cross, including Flash Bang Wallop, Money To Burn and of course, Half a Sixpence.

The entire Chichester cast will reprise their roles in the West End. They include Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps, Devon-Elise Johnson as Ann Pornick, Emma Williams as Helen Walsingham and Ian Bartholomew as Chitterlow.

Half A Sixpence is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and is designed by Paul Brown, with choreography by Andrew Wright, orchestrations by William David Brohn, musical supervision by Stephen Brooker, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter and video design by Luke Halls.

Half A Sixpence is initially booking at the Noel Coward Theatre until February 11, 2017. Tickets go on sale to the public from 10am on September 1. A limited number of £20 lottery seats will be released each day from October 29 at 10am in person at the box office.