Half a Sixpence, Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester. August 2016.
This was our annual outing with Mr Norfolkbookworm's aunt to her choice of show and as has happened over the past few years this wasn't a show we'd have picked ourselves but a day out in Chichester is always a treat.
I approached this one with more trepidation than usual after the unusual decision I made after seeing Mary Poppins last month. Tommy Steele might have been a great singer/dancer/actor in his day but the film version of Half A Sixpence was awful and I only watched about 20 minutes before giving up. Mr Norfolkbookworm got to the end and said I'd made a good decision.
I am pleased to report that I loved the entire thing on stage, from the clever set even before the actors appeared, to the costumes, singing, dancing and story the whole thing was an utter delight.
The story had been simplified somewhat from the film and the characters were all clearly defined and I found the show to be beautifully balanced between male and female leads, of course Kipps was the main role but the show wasn't a one-man vehicle like the film appeared to be. I couldn't tell which were new songs and which were originals as it all seemed to just 'fit' for me. I loved the relationship between Ann and Flo and I had a lump in my throat when their stories all worked out.
I think that the setting of this show was always going to make it resonate with me, as it is all set in Folkestone which is where my family come from and I could 'see' the real places as well as the beautiful and innovative staging. I also thought that the accents sounded like Kent ones and not bad cockney ones.
I love shows that I am nervous about and then they turn out to be terrific, right now this is likely to end up as one of my top shows of the year and I really didn't expect that as we walked in to the auditorium.
As ever lots of appreciation to all the staff at Chichester (theatre, restaurant and bar) who make going to the theatre with a companion who is elderly and registered disabled so easy - and even let us know that there were reduced tickets for disabled people rather than just selling the best seats in the house.