It may be due to close in September, but HALF A SIXPENCE will live on in the hearts of its fans. Thousands of theatregoers of all ages have seen and fallen in love with this show during its West End run and many are mourning the news that it won't be running anymore. Becky Wallis is one of these superfans and she shares why she fell in love with the show and why she'll feel totally gutted when Charlie Stemp lays down his banjo for the last time...
Every now and again, if you are lucky, something comes along that has the power to make you so happy that your cheeks ache from smiling and a lump comes to your throat. Something that fills you with so much joy that it just leaves you wanting more of it, like an addiction that you can’t quite control. For me, that something comes in the form of a show. And that show is HALF A SIXPENCE. I think that I was around six or seven when I first watched the film version staring Tommy Steele in the role of Arthur Kipps, and ever since then I have loved it. I believe that it was watching that film that made me fall in love in musicals.
I fell in love with the idea of people bursting into song and dancing down the street. I still smile whenever I hear Flash Bang Wallop being played on television and watching the film has always been a little treat for me, becoming lost in the world of Sixpence for a couple of hours. And musicals have been a huge part of my life ever since watching the film. Last year I was lucky enough to see Tommy Steele in a production of The Glen Miller Story, and at one point he came onto the stage with a big grin on his face, wearing a red and white pin stripe suit and I just smiled, thinking "yes, that’s Arthur Kipps".
When I heard that there was going to be a new stage show of HALF A SIXPENCE, I was so excited and just knew that I had to see it. After seeing it six times now, I have fallen in love with it even more. It has become a huge part of my life. Seeing the show inspired me to read the book on which it is based; Kipps, Story of a simple soul by H.G. Wells and it has quickly become one of my favourite books. I listen to the music every day and I have made new friends through a shared love of this show. There is something very magical about that. This show seems to inspire friendship. People seem to want to go and enjoy the show together with their friends. Everyone seems to talk to each other at stage door, talking about the show and why they enjoyed it so much. Even on social media, the love for it is talked about and shared among friends.
Every time I walk into the Noel Coward Theatre and see that beautiful stage ahead of me, I feel like I am home. For a few hours, I am swept away in the story of Arthur and all of those around him and nothing else matters. From the moment the music starts to play and you see Ann and Arthur come bounding onto the stage, I am happy. There is love and heart and joy in every second of this show. From ‘I’ve got this sixpence and I managed to file it in half’ all the way through to the final banjo pluck of ‘pick out a simple tune’, every single moment is full of energy and an outpouring of love and happiness. From one of my favourite films to my now favourite ever stage show, everything about HALF A SIXPENCE is perfect.
People ask me why I keep going back to HALF A SIXPENCE - ask me how I never get bored of it - and every time I tell them the same thing, I just love it. I know all of the lyrics and can quote many snippets of dialogue. I still laugh at all of the jokes, whether it be an actual line or just a look from one character to another. Every cast member appears to have a complete understanding of their character, even the smaller roles. Every character is rounded and developed, every character has their own story within the main story, whether it be Sid and his dreams of revolution or Pearce’s more simple wish of a shop of his own. I for one, become completely involved in every characters story which only adds to the magic of this wonderful show.
I knew deep down that it was always going have a limited run but I won’t sugar coat it, I was devastated when it was officially announced that it was to close in September. It has become so special to me and I am going to miss it terribly. Walking past the beautiful Noel Coward Theatre will never be the same once the signage is gone. But the memories that this show has given me will stay with me forever. From the excitement I feel every time I sit in my seat waiting for the show to begin to the friendships I have made, and to the wonderful stage door experiences I have had with this show’s amazing cast.
So thank you HALF A SIXPENCE. Thank you for being all I could have dreamed of when I thought about my favourite film being performed live on stage. Thank you for being a base on which I have formed friendships and thank you for just being perfect, the dream come true show!