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Half a Sixpence

Music & Lyrics - David Heneker

Book - Beverley Cross based upon the novel Kipps by H.G.Wells

David Heneker, commissioned to write a musical for the former Rock star Tommy Steele, provided the 1960ís stage with one of the most successful shows of the decade.

Two songs in particular became standards for Steele, the exchange of the lovers token, "Half a Sixpence" and the wedding day photo, "Flash, Bang Wallop!"

The Hitchin Thespians recreated this merry, lively show in Autumn 2001 (October 8-13) at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage.


The story is based upon the H.G.Wells novel, Kipps. Half a Sixpence, is set at the turn of the last century and centres on the cockney character Arthur Kipps.

Arthur is an orphan who becomes a draperís apprentice in Folkstone. When he inherits a fortune, Arthur finds it brings him all sorts of problems: he trips over his own ambitions and is dogged with hangers-on.

He becomes engaged to the snobbish socialite Helen Walsingham, then breaks off the engagement to marry Ann Pornick, a working class girl whom he had loved all along.

He loses his money to Helenís brother in a hapless business deal and ends up contentedly as the owner of a bookshop.


Overture; All in the cause of economy; Half a sixpence; Money to burn; The oak and the ash; Sheís too far above me; Iím not talking to you; If the rainís got to fall; The old military canal; The one thatís run away; Long ago; Flash, Bang, Wallop!; I know what I am; Iíll build a palace; I only want a little house; Finale.

Half a sixpence was written for Tommy Steele who starred as Arthur Kipps, appearing in both London and New York runs and also in the film version of the musical in 1967.


21 March 1963 at the Cambridge Theatre. 677 performances.

Producer: Harold Fielding

Musical Director: Kenneth Alwyn

Cast included: Anna Barry, John Bull, Colin Farrell, James Grout, Jessica James, Cheryl Kennedy, Tommy Steele, Anthony Valentine, Marti Webb


April 25 1965 at the Broadhurst Theatre. 512 performances.

Producers: Harold Fielding in association with Allen-Hodgdon and Stevens Productions

Director: Gene Saks

Choreographer: Onna White

Cast included: Tommy Steele (Arthur Kipps), Polly James (Ann Pornick), Carrie Nye (Helen Walsingham), Ann Shoemaker (Mrs Walsingham), John Cleese (Young Walshingham - Helenís brother), Will Mackenzie (Sid Pornick) , Grover Dale (Pearce), James Grout (Chitterlow).

Changes to the score from the London version included some rousing dance numbers from Onna White, notably the banjo-plucking "Money to Burn". Tommy Steele mastered the art of dance in the run-up to the Broadway opening. During the run, he was succeeded by Tony Tanner, Joel Grey and Dick Kalman.


Producer: Charles H. Schneer, George Sidney

Director: George Sidney

Writer: Beverley Cross (based on the novel Kipps by H.G. Wells),

Choreography: Gillian Lynne

Cast included:

Tommy Steele (Arthur Kipps)
Julia Foster (Ann)
Penelope Horner (Helen Walsingham)
Cyril Ritchard (Harry Chitterlow)
Grover Dale (Pearce)
Elaine Taylor (Kate)
Julia Sutton (Flo)
Sheila Falconer (Victoria)
Leslie Meadows (Buggins)
Christopher Sandford (Sid)
Pamela Brown (Mrs. Walsingham)
James Villiers (Hubert Walsingham)
Gerald Campion (Fat Boy)
Jeffrey Chandler (Young Kipps)
Barry Sinclair (Woodrow)
Hilton Edwards (Shalford)
Jean Anderson (Lady Botting)
Allan Cuthbertson (Wilkins)
Aleta Morrison (Laura)
Deborah Permenter (Young Ann)

Production Photographs - Click for larger Photos


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