Chichester Festival Theatre and Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of HALF A SIXPENCE will introduce two young actors – Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps (replacing Bryan Dick*) and Devon-Elise Johnson as Ann Pornick – 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.
Playing in the Festival Theatre from 14 July to 3 September 2016, this new stage version of HALF A SIXPENCE, the musical adaptation of H.G. Wells’s disguised autobiographical novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul, is a completely fresh adaptation which 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.
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.
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.
HALF A SIXPENCE is sponsored by Covers Timber & Builders Merchant, Henry Adams, Reynolds Fine Furniture and Seaward Properties.
*Due to a scheduling conflict, Chichester Festival Theatre agreed to release Bryan Dick, who was previously announced to play Kipps, from his commitment to Half a Sixpence. He will continue with his role in Hobson’s Choice in the West End.
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.