Sixpence New Artwork.

Half A Sixpence


New Music and Lyrics

Original songs


Festival Theatre


The undoubted hit of the summer, perhaps even the year

Evening Standard

So warm you feel you’re basking by the seaside. Pure gold. Bravo!

Daily Telegraph

High-kicking, heel-clicking, cartwheel-turning – sheer exhilaration


Flash, bang, wallop what a musical!

Daily Mail

Based on the H.G. WELLS novel
Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul
And the original musical by

Half A Sixpence is the iconic British musical adaptation of H.G. Wells’s disguised autobiographical novel Kipps: The Story Of A Simple Soul, based on the author’s unhappy apprenticeship as a draper at Hyde’s Drapery Emporium in Southsea. This new stage version of the novel is a completely fresh adaptation by Julian Fellowes, Oscar-winning screenwriter and creator of Downton Abbey.

Arthur Kipps, an orphan, is an over-worked draper’s assistant at Shalford’s Bazaar, Folkestone, at the turn of the last century. He is a charming but ordinary young man who, along with his fellow apprentices, dreams of a better and more fulfilling world, but he likes his fun just like any other, except not quite.

When Kipps unexpectedly inherits a fortune that propels him into high society, it confuses everything he thought he knew about life. Watching him wrestle with his new identity is his childhood companion and not-quite girlfriend, Ann Pornick, who sees with dismay how Arthur is being made over in a new image by the beautiful and classy Helen Walsingham. She is always there with helpful hints on how Arthur could improve himself and make his life richer and more meaningful, if only he would believe in himself, and listen to her. Both of these young women love Arthur – there is no doubt about that – but which 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.

This new stage version of Half A Sixpence has a stellar creative team and reunites bookwriter Julian Fellowes with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the musical team that co-creator Cameron Mackintosh first put together to create the smash-hit stage adaptation of Mary Poppins with Disney. They have written an exuberant score that is inspired by and features several of composer David Heneker’s memorable songs from the original production, which he co-wrote with Beverley Cross, including the show-stopping Flash Bang Wallop, Money To Burn and the irresistible Half A Sixpence.

Director Rachel Kavanaugh’s previous work at Chichester includes The Music Man (2008), Love Story (2010) and more recently Single Spies (2016).

Cast & Creatives


Creative Team

Julian Fellowes


George Stiles and Anthony Drewe

New Music and Lyrics

Cameron Mackintosh


Rachel Kavanaugh


Paul Brown


Andrew Wright


William David Brohn


Stephen Brooker

Musical Supervisor

Graham Hurman

Musical Supervisor and Conductor

Paule Constable

Lighting Designer

Mick Potter

Sound Designer

Luke Halls

Video Designer

Trevor Jackson

Casting Director

Paul Wooller

Casting Director


Rehearsal Diary


Flash, bang, wallop, what a show! Welcome to the undoubted hit of the summer, perhaps even the year, courtesy of Chichester, easily the country’s finest purveyor of musical theatre.

Evening Standard

Leaving the auditorium in raptures, bid hello to 22-year-old star-in-the-making Charlie Stemp. He’s got a grin so broad and warm you feel you’re basking by the seaside.

A bouquet apiece for composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe who have diligently buffed-up David Heneker’s charming-catchy numbers and brilliantly supplemented them at every turn.

Bravo! If the first incarnation of this show was all Steele, this one’s pure gold.

Daily Telegraph

Thanks to a mix of choreography, endlessly revolving props of merry-go-round proportions, and a cast who are on fire with Stemp ablaze at the helm, this is a genuine masterpiece. A triumph.

The i Newspaper

Fellowes’s freshly adapted book adds a sliver of edge, emphasising the upstairs/downstairs class conflict with an arched eyebrow and a slyly satirical wink. Sparkling new songs enhance skilful reworkings of David Heneker’s original numbers. And Rachel Kavanaugh’s production is right on the money, with dazzling choreography by Andrew Wright and a lead performance by the newcomer Charlie Stemp that radiates easy charm and gawky grace.

High-kicking, heel-clicking, cartwheel-turning – sheer exhilaration.


Flash, bang, wallop what a musical!

Daily Mail

A wonderfully clever, stunningly choreographed tour de force.

In young Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps the production has announced a revelation. All toothy grins, charm that ricochets around the auditorium, he is a note-perfect, fleet-footed marvel. The rest of the assemble are fantastic too bringing out the sheer comic joy of the production in a series of rip-roaring set pieces.

Brighton Argus

Half A Sixpence instantly feels a landmark CFT moment, one of the finest productions its stage has given. Sparky and sparkling, polished to perfection.

Stemp’s performance is beautifully supported - by Devon-Elise Johnson as the homely but feisty Ann from his impoverished past and by Emma Williams as Helen from his current fortune. Johnson offers a beautiful picture of spirit and loyalty; Williams adds lovely poignancy as a woman thoroughly decent despite her class. An absolute triumph for director Rachel Kavanaugh and everyone involved.

Chichester Observer

Quite simply stunning, worthy of its several standing ovations.

From a brilliant supporting cast, Ian Bartholomew is terrific as playwright Chitterlow who takes Kipps under his wing, Vivien Parry is marvellous as the future mother-in-law from hell Mrs Walsingham, and watch out for a scene-stealing cameo from Gerard Carey as the wedding photographer.

Southern Daily Echo

Breathtakingly inventive direction (Rachel Kavanaugh) and choreography (Andrew Wright), and a sublime cast all go to make – yes, I’m going to say it – the best evening’s theatre I’ve ever experienced. Joyous.

Portsmouth News

Andrew Wright's choreography is terrific lending real oomph and flair to the big set piece numbers - particularly the climactic "Flash, Bang, Wallop!"

Half A Sixpence is escapism of the highest order, and the summer audience seemed thirsty for it. It feels like the end of a hosepipe ban on happiness.

The Arts Desk

Press Night LIVE

Running Time
approx 2 hours 45 mins including the interval