Earlier this year, I visited Half a Sixpence with an American friend who was eager to see the show. Those who read my review of the show in February will know that I absolutely loved it and raved about every aspect. After hearing my thoughts on the show, my Mum was really disappointed that she had missed out on it, as it seemed to be her type of show. The show announced closing notice a few months ago, so time was against my Mum's quest to visit Half a Sixpence. Fortunately though, with just weeks to spare before the show closed, she was able to go on her Birthday. I was thrilled to get the chance to see it a second time, and it was just as brilliant the second time as it was the first time. The aspect of Half a Sixpence which has stunned me both times are the production numbers. Half a Sixpence contains multiple large production numbers, which consists of brilliant songs assisted with a large amount of choreography, an enormous amount of energy from the cast and in one instance, a use of props as instruments. The production numbers which truly blew me away were "Pick Out a Simple Tune" and "Flash Bang Wallop", they were like nothing else and are an absolute delight to see. Large production numbers such as the ones in Half a Sixpence can be a rare sight in the West End, so this is evidence that Half a Sixpence is a very special show. Andrew Wright is a magnificent choreographer. With every song in the show featuring this amazing choreography, his work is very consistent. I am still extremely bitter that Half a Sixpence was not nominated for "Best Choreography" at the Olivier Awards. Instead of nominating Half a Sixpence for its phenomenal choreography, the Oliver Award committee chose to nominate Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play which features a small amount of modern movement. The Cured Child is my favourite play of all time, but it did not really deserve to be nominated over Half a Sixpence for best choreography. As I'm sure you can tell, that decision absolutely shocked me. On the positive side of things, Half a Sixpence rightfully won the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Choreography, which proves that the majority of theatregoers disagreed with the Oliver Award committee. The score of Half a Sixpence is wonderful, I never tire of listening to the cast album. If I had to choose three favourites, my personal highlights of the score would be "If The Rain's Got to Fall", "The One Who's Run Away" and "Pick Out a Simple Tune". Completely coincidentally, at both performances of the show I have seen, Charlie Stemp has been absent from the show and Sam O'Rourke has been understudying in the role of Arthur Kipps. I was amazed by Sam's performance the first time I saw it, and I even nominated him for Best Understudy for the Basic Theatre Awards earlier this year. When I saw the show in February, it was his fifth or sixth performance in the role. I had no idea that when I saw the show again I would be seeing his last performance as Arthur Kipps. It was great to see how he has progressed in the role. He is an outstanding actor, singer and dancer; a triple threat! Ian Bartholomew is excellent as Chitterlow. I've now seen him onstage three times (once in Mrs. Henderson Presents and twice in Half a Sixpence) and he is flawless throughout every performance. Portraying Ann Pornick was Devon Elise-Johnson, who has an absolutely beautiful voice, as evidenced in the song "Long Ago". I was also struck by the fact that she is a brilliant dancer, something which I did not notice last time. When I saw the show in February, Emma Williams, who portrays Helen Walsingham, was absent from the show, so it was great to finally see her in the role that gained her a WhatsOnStage Award. Emma is so natural when she is onstage, she throughly transforms into any role that she plays and that is a wonderful quality for any actor or actress to have. She is a true star and it'll be really interesting to see what show she goes into next. I would also like to give special mentions to Alex Hope, as Sid Pornick, and Samantha Hull, who was understudying as Flo, who were both superb. The orchestrations, lighting, set and costumes are all tremendous as well. It's so sad that the show is closing, as it deserves to run and run. Sadly a lot of my favourite shows seem to be closing in September (The Great Comet, Bandstand and Groundhog Day), but i suppose all good things must come to an end. I urge everyone to go and see Half a Sixpence before it closes on September 2nd. I have my fingers crossed that Half a Sixpence will appear on a UK tour someday!
The featured star of Half a Sixpence is, drum roll please... SAM O'ROURKE!
Sam gives one of the best performances for any understudy I have ever seen. He gives it his all when he's onstage and always seems to be full of energy, in what must be a very demanding role. Sam is more than good enough to play the role of Arthur full time, and perhaps if the show were to ever make a return, he would hopefully be able to do so.
Now for my final verdict on Half a Sixpence. I give Half a Sixpence...
This was a very hard choice between 4 and 5 stars, but in the end I decided to go with 4 stars. As I said, it is a real shame that this has to close, but let's hope it won't be the last we hear of Half a Sixpence!
Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.
Thanks for reading!