THE NORBURY Players’ production of Half a Sixpence had everything – catchy musical numbers, great choreography and even some social comment.
It centres around Kipps and Ann who were childhood friends but were parted whilst they were still young.
Kipps cut a sixpence in half and told Ann to look at it whenever she missed him.
Years later, Kipps is working as an apprentice in a draper’s shop in Folkestone when Ann arrives in the town looking for him.
They meet and re-kindle their childhood friendship. Then, everything changes.
Sam Jeffrey was simply excellent as cheeky Cockney chappy Arthur Kipps – his performance was faultless and, as he was on the stage for almost the whole duration, you leave wondering how he managed to learn and remember so many lines and songs.
Tam Weir was the firm favourite of the packed crowd as thespian and playwright Harry Chitterlow. With the character’s confidence – almost to the point of arrogance but not quite, he was Noel Coward-esque and made the stage his own.
There were other good portrayals – by Chloe Earl as Ann and Melanie Brown as the snobby Mrs Walsingham.
Among the highlights in the first half were the musical numbers Normal Working Day, Half a Sixpence, If I had Money to Burn and If the Rain’s Got to Fall.
There were some great comedy moments, particularly with Andy Brown as The Man trying to charge Arthur for the rental of a deckchair even though he had only put his hand on it. He had a similar situation in the second half as a wedding photographer.
But there was also some poignant dramatic tension – particularly just before the interval when heartbroken Ann finds out Arthur has got engaged to Helen. You could hear a pin drop in the theatre as the scene built before that silence was broken – the audience jumped out of their skins as she slammed down a tray onto the stage.
The second half was a lot more pacey than the first as the talented cast took the crowd on a rollercoaster of a storyline with plenty of twists and turns.
The duet between Arthur and Ann on Long Ago was a beautiful moment.
After a few more twists and turns there is the happy ending – Half a Sixpence, with cricket matches and a seaside town pier, is one of the most quintessentially English productions you could see.
It is also one of the most feelgood – those watching left in high spirits, humming Flash Bang Wallop which must be the catchiest of all catchy songs.
That had everyone tapping along midway through the second act and clapping along when it was reprised before the curtain came down.
Those wanting to catch the show still have next Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 1 to 4).
Performances take place at the Friar Street venue at 7.30pm tonight (Friday) and tomorow (Saturday).
Tickets, which are £12 (£10 concessions), are available by visiting www.norburytheatre.co.uk or by calling 01905 770154.