Half A Sixpence
Half a Sixpence was based on H.G. Wells’s novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul. Steele plays Arthur Kipps, an orphan who unexpectedly inherits a fortune, and climbs the social ladder before losing everything and realizing that you just can’t buy happiness. The novel is somewhat autobiographical, being inspired by the rapid changes in Wells’s own life when his early novels brought him financial security.
David Heneker (who had also worked on Irma La Douce and Charlie Girl) wrote both music and lyrics. Steele’s importance to the show was made evident by his appearance in twelve of the musical’s fifteen songs. Much of this musical seems to be tailored as a star vehicle for Steele’s particular talents. This seems especially evident in the musical number “Money to Burn”: when Arthur Kipps realizes that he is about to become wealthy, he decides that the first thing he will buy is a banjo. This is the cue for someone to hand Tommy Steele a banjo so that he can demonstrate his skill on the instrument. However, in Wells’s novel, one of the first things that Arthur Kipps purchases with his newfound wealth is, indeed, a banjo.
This production featured a young gardener from Kew who is now our illustrious Patron.
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