• Half a Sixpence PosterDirected by: Lynda Clarkson
  • Choreographed by: Sue Mather
  • Musical Director: Nic Parker

December 1996
Lowther Pavilion, Lytham


  • Arthur Kipps: Peter Taylor
  • Sid Pornick: John Stringfellow
  • Buggins: Jack Wayne
  • Pearce: Glenn Rothwell
  • Albert: Michael Holdsworth
  • Flo Bates: Hannah Redfern
  • Victoria: Kirsty Wells
  • Kate: Amanda Stevenson
  • Emma: Helen Jackson
  • Mr. Shalford: Richard Reed
  • Mr. Carshot: Chris Campbell
  • Mrs. Botting: Kate Wilkinson
  • Mrs. Walshingham: April Young
  • Ann Pornick: Elayne Clarkson
  • Harry Chitterlow: Alistair Cope
  • Young Walshingham: Edward Greenberg
  • Helen Walshingham: Stephanie Platel
  • Laura: Helen Freeman

Katie Bamber, Michael Barlow, Lucy Beswick, Jessica Betts, Elizabeth Broughton, Lynne Carr, Michael Clarke, Helen Cooper, Jennie Cox, Siobhan Cox, Alex Dangerfield, James Dangerfield, Laura Darkins, Philip Fairhurst, Katie Gill, Catherine Graham, Sarah Hope, Richard Kellet, Laura Nockolds, Helen Packer, Gemma Parkinson, Chris Roberts, Gareth Roberts, Oliver Rogerson, Jenna Rothwell, Hayley Rowen, Jennifer Taylor, Stuart Tullock, Elaine Tyler


Half a Sixpence is a musical comedy written as a vehicle for British pop star Tommy Steele. It is based on H.G. Wells’ novel “Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul”. , an orphan who unexpectedly inherits a fortune, and climbs the social ladder before losing everything and realizing that you just can’t buy happiness.

The novel is somewhat autobiographical, being inspired by the rapid changes in Wells’ own life when his early novels brought him financial security.

David Heneker (who had also worked on Irma La Douce and Charlie Girl) wrote both music and lyrics. Steele’s importance to the show was made evident by his appearance in twelve of the musical’s fifteen songs.

Much of this musical seems to be tailored as a star vehicle for Steele’s particular talents. This seems especially evident in the musical number “Money to Burn”: when Arthur Kipps realizes that he is about to become wealthy, he decides that the first thing he will buy is a banjo. This is the cue for someone to hand Tommy Steele a banjo so that he can demonstrate his skill on the instrument. However, in Wells’ novel, one of the first things that Arthur Kipps purchases with his newfound wealth is, indeed, a banjo.

“Half a Sixpence” transferred to Broadway in 1965, playing at the Broadhurst Theatre for 511 performances. This production also starred Steele. John Cleese played the small but crucial role of Walsingham, the stockbroker from a respectable family who embezzles Kipps’ fortune.

Half a Sixpence was the last West End show to transfer successfully to New York before the late 1970s and early 1980s musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

A 1967 film adaptation starring Steele was directed by George Sidney and choreographed by Gillian Lynne. Lesley Judd, a future presenter of the BBC children’s TV series Blue Peter, was one of the dancing chorus.

The 2nd Major Show Performed by LATA! After the Success of “The Vackees”, it was felt this would be a great contrast, and with it being such a bright vibrant show, it was perfect for the group!!


Giving half a sixpence to a loved one is a romantic gesture par excellence. How well LATA brought this gesture to life for me tonight.

Peter Taylor’s portrayal of Arthur Kipps was cheeky and well-acted. He convinced me that he was a young man caught on a roller-coaster not of his own making. My advice for him will be hard to take, yet take it he must if his promise is to bear fruit. Don’t sing at all for at least two years, Peter, and let your voice settle a bit. Then get the best singing coach money can buy. I have yet to see a group of likelier lads than the apprentices (played by John Stringfellow, Jack Wayne, Glenn Rothwell and Michael Houldsworth). The two loves in Arthur’s life, Ann Walsingham and Helen Pomick, were contrasted well by Elayne Clarkson and Stephanie Platel. I felt genuinely sorry for Helen when she realised that she had loved Arthur as he was, not as her family had made him to be. She sounded forlorn. Elayne was strong as Ann, singing and acting very well indeed.

Without Chitterlow, the story wouldn’t start, and wouldn’t have quite such a happy ending. Alistair Cope enjoyed his part tremendously, and I found that I was enjoying it just as much. There is a wealth of talent in this company, which showed itself not only in the main roles but also in the smaller parts. Richard Reed’s Mr Shalford was bombastic – he has an excellent stage presence. Kate Wilkinson (Mrs Botting) and April Young (Mrs Walsingham) gave high-and-mighty performances as ladies in society. I despised them for their lack of feeling towards Kipps, Ann and Helen.
Nick Parker, the musical director, had made sure that the on-stage music was well-known and well-delivered.

The “orchestra” mentioned in the programme sounded suspiciously like a piano and drums to me – I suppose that’s an orchestra. I’m sorry to say it sounded like the drummer was busking, particularly during “Flash Bang Wallop” – this number had a pedestrian feel about it, mostly down to the 2-in-a-bar drum beats. Sorry to get technical. Producer Lynda Clarkson and Choreographer Sue Mather had obviously worked together to produce a staging which was “of a piece”. The characterisations were always good, and the choreography was enthusiastically done. It was good to see a company where all the members can dance and sing.
The programme didn’t mention their next venture, mainly because they don’t know what or when it will be. So keep your eyes peeled when you’re looking at the Showboard. Go and see them, and be amazed at something about LATA which I deliberately haven’t mentioned


Categories: Shows