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Three cheers to West End impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh for his latest creation Half A Sixpence

PUBLISHED: 14:17 01 December 2016 | UPDATED: 14:20 01 December 2016

Half A Sixpence with Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps.

Half A Sixpence with Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps.

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REVIEW: Half A Sixpence at The Noel Coward Theatre

Half A Sixpence with Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps.Half A Sixpence with Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps.

Direct from Chichester – the theatre responsible for West End transfers Gypsy, Funny Girl and Guys And Dolls - comes this fabulous traditional musical for a limited season at The Noël Coward Theatre.

Originally written in 1963 by David Heneker and Beverley Cross, this classic show has now been given a fresh lick of paint by a top team of West End talent under the watchful eye of Cameron Mackintosh.

With a new story by Downtown creator Julian Followes, revamped music and lyrics by Anthony Drew and George Stiles, Cameron Mackintosh has given us something quite special, offering glimpses of Singing In The Rain, Downtown Abbey and a Oliver (which coincidently made its London premiere in the same theatre back in 1960).

So, let’s get on with the show. It’s always great to see new talent making its way into the West End and they don’t came more welcome then Charlie Stemp, who takes on the leading role as Arthur Kipps, the shop apprentice boy part made famous by Tommy Steele. A tough act to follow you may say, but no Stemp proves a triple treat - singer, dancer and actor and to top it all can, he strum a string on two on the banjo, which (talking to his mother on press night) he learnt as a child.

Maybe it’s fate that he was always destined to play this role. One thing is for sure, we are going to be seeing a lot more of this super talented young actor in the future!

Other standout performances came from leading ladies Emma Williams as snooty Helen Walsingham, Devon Elise-Johnson as the childhood sweetheart Ann Pornick. Comedy came from Jane How as Lady Punnet, who delivered some classic one liners and could easily gave Downtown’s Dame Maggie Smith a run for her money! Also Gerard Carey as James Walsingham, a very flamboyant, slightly intoxicated, photographer who almost stole the show!

Director Rachel Kavanaugh brings a wonderful piece of theatre with something for everyone including your granny - comedy, passion and above all charm.

Along with electric choreography by Andrew Wright and superb design by Paul Baytown, this really is the perfect winter warmer for all ages – making this my musical of the year!

*****

Booking to February 2017 at The Noel Coward Theatre

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