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July 2011
'Half a Sixpence'

Based on the novel Kipps by H G Wells.
Original music and Lyics by David Heneker.
This version by Warner Brown

By Jamie White - Friday, July 22, 2011
(reproduced by kind permission of
the Isle of Wight County Press)

WHEN an audience walks out at the end of a performance singing the main song, you get a general feeling that it was a success.

The latest production from Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society was Half A Sixpence, directed by Daphne Brown, which certainly gave everyone value for money.

The musical, based on the book, Kipps, by H. G. Wells, is set in Folkstone in 1900, when orphan Arthur Kipps finds himself in a dilemma about his love life. After thinking he has come into money, he faces a choice between cultured aristocrat Helen Walsingham (Sophie Pevreall) and his childhood sweetheart, Ann (Sue Berryman).

Kipps was played faultlessly by Martin Croutear. He featured in almost every scene, providing many moments of humour in the role as a simple lad who has his life changed by money after working for many years under the strict regime of Mr Shalford (Pete Arnott).
Martin paired brilliantly with Sue Berryman as Ann, the maid with whom he shares half a sixpence to make her officially his girl. Their duets were seamless and captivated the audience. The solo efforts by Martin, singing Proper Gentleman and What Should I Feel? among others, were impressively supported by the orchestra.

The play had several location switches, from Shalford’s Drapery Emporium, with its amusing staff, to Folkestone Promenade with places in between, culminating with a superb re-enactment of a cricket match, with a stylish and well-designed backdrop. The costumes were all authentic 1900s garments, which included waistcoats, top hats and dresses for the ladies.

My only slightly negative comment would be that some of the dialogue was hard to hear and the addition of microphones on the stage would benefit the group greatly. But that certainly did not spoil the show and the sterling performances, which concluded with the notable, What a Picture, and a rapturous applause from the appreciative audience.