FULL CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR Half A Sixpence
14 July – 3 September, Chichester Festival Theatre
Full casting has been announced for Chichester Festival Theatre and Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of HALF A SIXPENCE, the musical adaptation of H.G. Wells’s disguised autobiographical novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul. This completely fresh adaptation – which also coincides with the 150th anniversary of H.G. Wells’ birth – reunites book-writer Julian Fellowes (Oscar-winning screenwriter and creator of Downton Abbey) with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the musical team that co-creator Cameron Mackintosh first put together to create the hit stage adaptation of Mary Poppins with Disney. The score is inspired by and features several of composer David Heneker’s exhilarating songs from the original production, including Flash Bang Wallop, Money To Burn and Half A Sixpence.
Playing in the Festival Theatre from 14 July, this new stage version will introduce two young actors – Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps and Devon-Elise Johnson as Ann – alongside three times Olivier-nominated actor Ian Bartholomew as Chitterlow, three times Olivier-nominated actress Emma Williams as Helen Walsingham, and Vivien Parry as Mrs Walsingham.
They are joined by Kimberly Blake, Nick Butcher, Gerard Carey (James Walsingham), John Conroy (Mr Shalford), Matthew Dale, Jaye Elster, Tim Hodges, Alex Hope (Sidney), Jane How (Lady Punnet), Bethany Huckle (Flo), Rebecca Jayne-Davies, Jennifer Louise Jones, Philip Marriott, Harry Morrison, Sam O’Rourke (Buggins), James Paterson (Uncle Bert), Callum Train (Pierce), Annie Wensak (Aunt Susan) and Lauren Varnham.
2016 marks the 150th anniversary of H.G. Wells’ birth in 1866 and the 70th anniversary of his death in 1946. His novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul was based on his unhappy apprenticeship as a draper at Hyde’s Drapery Emporium in Southsea. Born in Kent, Wells spent much of his youth in West Sussex, living in Midhurst while his mother was housekeeper at Uppark (now a National Trust property).
Arthur Kipps, an orphan and over-worked draper’s assistant at the turn of the last century, unexpectedly inherits a fortune that propels him into high society. His childhood companion, Ann Pornick, watches with dismay as Arthur is made over in a new image by the beautiful and classy Helen Walsingham. Both young women undoubtedly love Arthur – but which of them 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.
Charlie Stemp and Devon-Elise Johnson have both recently completed the international tour of Mamma Mia!. Charlie has also appeared in Wicked in the West End, while Devon-Elise’s London theatre credits include Taboo, and Susan Parks in Billy Elliot as a child performer.
Ian Bartholomew’s extensive West End credits include Mrs Henderson Presents, for which he received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical; Into The Woods and Radio Times (for both of which he also received Olivier Award nominations), Shakespeare in Love, Tommy, Dead Funny and many roles for the National Theatre. The most recent of his many television appearances include Maigret, New Blood, DCI Banks and South Riding.
Emma Williams is currently playing Maureen in Mrs Henderson Presents, for which she received her third Olivier Award nomination. Her London theatre credits also include Jenny in Love Story (which premiered at Chichester) and Luisa in Zorro, both of which earned her Olivier Award nominations. She made her West End debut as Truly Scrumptious in the original cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and went on to play leading roles in Bat Boy: The Musical and Desperately Seeking Susan. Emma’s screen credits include The Parole Officer with Steve Coogan, Bleak House with Gillian Anderson and, most recently, Silent Witness (both BBC).
Vivien Parry’s stage work includes The Girls (UK tour); A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Shoemaker’s Holiday (RSC); Top Hat, Mamma Mia! and Fame in the West End. Her film and television credits include Beauty and the Beast, Crash and Holby City.
Julian Fellowes is the creator, writer and executive producer of the multi-award-winning Downton Abbey. His writing also includes the screenplay for the film Gosford Park, which won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay; several best-selling novels; the recent television adaptation of Trollope’s Doctor Thorne; and the books for the stage musicals Mary Poppins and School of Rock.
Composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe’s musicals include Honk!, which won the Olivier Award for Best Musical in 2000 and has since received 8,000 productions worldwide in 20 languages; Betty Blue Eyes; and new songs, lyrics, dance and vocal arrangements for the international hit production of Mary Poppins for Disney and Cameron Mackintosh . Travels with My Aunt, premiered at Chichester in April; their new musical version of The Wind in the Willows opens in Plymouth in October.
HALF A SIXPENCE will be directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and designed by Paul Brown, with choreography by Andrew Wright and orchestrations by William David Brohn. The musical supervisors will be Stephen Brooker and Graham Hurman, who will also conduct; with lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter and video design by Luke Halls.
This will be director Rachel Kavanaugh’s sixth Chichester Festival production; her previous work here includes Love Story and The Music Man, while for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre she has directed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The Sound of Music.
Andrew Wright’s award-winning choreography includes Guys and Dolls, Singin’ in the Rain and Barnum (in association with Cameron Mackintosh) for Chichester, and Mrs Henderson Presents in the West End.
Half A Sixpence is sponsored by Covers Timber & Builders Merchant, Henry Adams, Reynolds Fine Furniture and Seaward Properties.
Half A Sixpence is at the Festival Theatre, Chichester from 14 July – 3 September. Evenings at 7.30pm (except for Press Night, 26 July at 7pm), matinees at 2.30pm.
Box Office 01243 781312
Prologue: £8.50 tickets for 16 – 25s
An allocation of tickets for 16 – 25 year olds priced at just £8.50 is available for all performances of Half A Sixpence. cft.org.uk/prologue.
Published 24th June 2016
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