Monday, 24 April 2017

REVIEW: Half a Sixpence at the Noël Coward Theatre

Transferring from the Chichester Festival Theatre with Cameron Mackintosh behind it, Half a Sixpence plays at the Noël Coward Theatre.

The production, as a whole, could have been simpler. As much as we were treated to an expensive and glorious production value one does wonder wether some expense could be spared and some parts could be slightly stripped back. Too much was going on most of the time.

The piece is out dated but has been salvaged by Stiles and Drewe who add a fresh take on the music. Keeping the classic feel to the show but also adding their stamp onto it. 

Andrew Wrights choreography is genius with a hint of chaos. It seemed a little too busy and hectic but it pulled together impeccably. 

Upstaging was an issue in this musical, I didn’t know where to look most of the time. Wether this was a character choice from the director and performers or just a production that is slightly out of control, I’m not sure! 

Charlie Stemp is a star. I have never seen someone move like that on stage before, just incredible. His take on the role was just perfect. 

Ian Bartholomew, fresh from being nominated for the Olivier for this performance, was a ball of energy. Something quite out of the ordinary but pulled the show together. He really held so much of the production on his shoulders.

Emma Williams played the stuck up Helen Washington well, at first she was intriguing and then irritating. We saw her through the eyes of Arthur Kipps. 

Devon-Elise Johnson was not on at this performance, in her place was Rebecca Jayne-Davies playing Ann Pornick, she flew the flag for all those understudies out there. Not the strongest vocally in the company however she was just perfect in the role, played it brilliantly and made the perfect match with Stemp as Arthur. 

Bethany Huckle (Flo), Alex Hope (Sid Pornick), Sam O' Rourke (Buggins) and Callum Train (Pierce) should have higher billing in the programme. The were
fantastic! Matching the talent of Charlie Stemp and its lovely to see performers having a good time with each other on stage. Four very good actors to keep your eye on, I know I'll looking forward to seeing what they all do next. Lets hope they don't get pushed to the back of the programme in their next jobs! 

It leaves you with a huge grin on your face. And as much as I will not be rushing back for a return visit, I would recommend this show to someone who wants a nice piece of good old fashioned British theatre of an evening. 

Review by Mark Swale

Rating: ★★★

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