Kipps: The New Half A Sixpence Musical

About the Key Creatives:

Deb McDowell, Director: “I’ve been a BROS member for 20 years – onstage and off. I’m very proud of the shows I’ve directed for BROS: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Into The Woods; City of Angels; The Producers; and most recently High Society at Richmond Theatre. I’ve been travelling to the Minack with BROS ever since The Boyfriend in 1996, either on-stage, back-stage or as an audience supporter, and have a real appreciation of the joys and challenges of the venue. Working with my highly supportive, tried and tested production team  and supported in the technical areas by friends I’ve worked with numerous times over the years, I’m confident that even as we emerge from these troubled times, Kipps is the perfect show to raise the spirits of the company and audience alike.”

Deb is a director with crystal clear vision but, importantly, also a strong sense of collaboration. She works fluidly with her artistic team to create amazing productions across a variety of venues and budgets and challenges her cast always to think creatively, laterally and energetically. Deb consistently produces shows with great heart and great humour.


Musical Director, Janet Simpson: “I’ve been a BROS member since 1989, originally just on-stage, but in 2008 I decided to take up the baton and was Musical Director for BROS’s award-winning production of Mr. Cinders at Hampton Hill Playhouse.  I have since enjoyed MDing the very challenging musicals Into the Woods, City of Angels, The Producers and, most recently, High Society at Richmond Theatre. I’ve been a regular performer and supporter in MInack projects over the last 20 years and I am excited to be part of this joyous project.”

Janet is well-respected for her musical ability and absolute attention to detail; she has very high expectations of others and herself. She is extremely well-organised, hugely determined, and meets challenges with fortitude and positivity. There is no doubt this company will be well-drilled, confident and ready to delight audiences with musical performances of the highest quality.


Choreographer, Jen Moorhead: “I have been with BROS for nearly 10 years and in that time I’ve choreographed shows for Hampton Hill Theatre, Richmond Theatre and the Minack Theatre. My experience ranges from classics such as Carousel and Oklahoma to lesser-known shows like Curtains and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Pippin and Return to the Forbidden Planet. I also choreographed BROS’s highly acclaimed productions of The Producers and High Society.”

Jen is hugely determined and has very high expectations. Her amazing work with chorus movement has been recognized by Noda and ArtsRichmond. Jen is known for using rehearsal time efficiently and effectively; her attention to detail is what makes her dances and dancers really stand out. She is an excellent teacher, but her rehearsals are always fun and she and ensures that as long as they’re prepared to work hard, even the most reluctant of dancers look good, feel confident and enjoy themselves!


Synopsis

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. One of his friends, Sid Pornick, has a strong sense that socialism has a lot to offer the working man seeking fairer access to life opportunities, a theme which is reinforced throughout the story. A chance meeting with Mr Chitterlow, a burgeoning playwright, leads Kipps to find he has unexpectedly inherited a fortune! This propels him into high society and confuses everything he thought he knew about life.

Watching from a distance, as Arthur wrestles with his new identity is his childhood friend (and Sid’s sister), Ann Pornick, who sees with dismay how he is being made over in a new image by the money-grabbing Mrs Walsingham and her son James. Mrs Walsingham’s daughter, Helen is trying to escape the bounds of her conventional upper-class existence, and recognises Arthur’s decency ‘despite’ his working class credentials. She is always there with well-meant helpful hints on how Arthur could improve himself and make his life richer and more meaningful, if only he would believe in himself. Sadly, she becomes implicated in her family’s somewhat less honourable plans when Arthur proposes and she agrees to marry him.

A chance meeting with Anne rekindles happy memories for Kipps of simpler times, and causes him to reflect, somewhat critically, on the life he is now trying to fit into. Both Helen and Anne 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.


What is good about this new version of Half A Sixpence?

This new stage version of Half A Sixpence returns to the H. G. Wells semi-autobiographical novel, “Kipps”, in order to refresh the story for a contemporary audience. It delivers the classic, romantic storyline with an appropriately upbeat happy ending, but crucially allows for the three key younger female characters to show more agency than is often possible in ‘traditional’ versions of the show. In fact, Kipps offers more opportunities for the entire company of singers, dancers and movers (who don’t all need to be in the first flush of youth), without losing the classic big numbers. For example, Flash Bang Wallop, which in the new version makes an excellent finale. There is plenty of lively, almost slapstick, comedy, and some great larger-than-life characters for all on stage to portray, including working class ‘salt of the earth’ types and the extremely privileged ‘poshies’. It is important to note that this story is set at a time when the many class-based social conventions which restricted the economic independence of the many for the benefit of the few were being directly and fundamentally challenged, and when women of all classes were beginning the fight for greater freedom and representation. I am hoping that in small but significant ways, we can highlight and celebrate these themes. We will also be looking to highlight the social aspect of the historical context through set design / programme design.

With its seaside location, Kipps the New Half A Sixpence Musical is perfect for the venue: we will have a ‘Promenade’ across the back of the stage, overlooking the sea and suitably festooned, which will look particularly lovely in Act 2 for evening performances. For an idea of the show, have a listen to the 2016 London Cast Recording – also available on Spotify.

Cast & Creative

Creative Team

Role Name
Director Deb McDowell
Musical Director Janet Simpson
Choreographer Jennifer Moorhead
Production Manager Lottie Walker
Assistant MD Carole Smith
Set Design / Project Support Wesley Henderson-Roe
Stage Manager Richard Coveney
Sound Stuart Vaughan and team
Costume Mags Wrightson and team
Props Jane Bean, Veronica Martin, Anne Pringle

Characters & Parts

Ann Pornick

Playing ages 22-25 | Singing solos / duets | Dance ability yes | Dialogue Y+++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Mezzo-soprano B3-E5

Sid Pornick’s sister, Lady Punnet’s maid and previously Kipps’ childhood sweetheart. Ann is a hard-working, socially aware young woman who longs to live a better life where she can be her own boss. Unsurprisingly in a musical, her main function is as Kipps’ true love interest and although she has to wait for him to work out what he needs, she is no ‘victim’ and is challenging, principled and above all lots of fun. She gets to sing the tear-jerking ‘Long Ago’ but also the hilarious and saucy ‘Touch of Happiness’. She is not involved in large company numbers until the finale ‘Flash Bang Wallop’.

Arthur Kipps

Playing ages 22-25 | Singing solos / duets / groups | Dance ability absolutely | Dialogue Y++++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Baritone B2-E4

Apprentice at Shalford’s Bazaar. He is full of life and energy. He enjoys entertaining others and is cheeky and funny. He is hard-working and not unhappy with his situation, but he is also dreamer and somewhat naive and impressionable, which is his main flaw. He’s not the most emotionally intelligent – especially when it comes to his interactions with women – but he is a loving and kind person who ultimately just wants to do the right thing. He sings and dances his way through this show and is barely off stage so will require a performer with strong technique, and a good deal of stamina. He needs to be a real triple threat!

Pierce

Playing ages 20-30 | Singing solo lines / group | Dance ability yes | Dialogue Y++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Baritone B2-E4

Described as a ‘dandy’, Pierce is an attractive young man who likes to look good and has pride in his appearance. He is also intelligent and keen to rise beyond his working class roots; to own his own shops and build a retail empire. He is envious of Arti’s rise to wealth and it is not beyond the bounds of the imagination to envisage Pierce, having been inspired by Arthur and Helen’s relationship, seeking out a wealthy young heiress to help finance his business ambitions. It feels just as comfortable to imagine him finding true happiness in a same-sex relationship. Perhaps Pierce’s best future contains a mixture of both of these narratives.  The musical numbers including this performer are Look Alive, Money to Burn + reprise, Proper Gentlemen, Joy of the Theatre, In the Middle There’s Me, Flash Bang Wallop/Half A Sixpence reprise.

Buggins

Playing ages 20-25 | Singing solo lines / group | Dance ability yes | Dialogue Y++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Baritone B2-E4

This character brings the ‘ahh’ factor to the show. He is such a likeable and friendly apprentice. A disorganised but gentle soul who seems a little slower to catch on than the others – a dynamic which creates many comic moments. However, it is important to note that he exhibits great kindness and sensitivity at key moments. He is in love with Flo, but accepts that she only has eyes for Artie, with whom he knows he can’t compete as he is too shy. When he finally plucks up the courage to ask her out after Ann and Artie get together, the audience are so happy for him that she accepts him, as he truly does deserve a ‘touch of happiness’ in his life. The musical numbers including this performer are Look Alive, Money to Burn + reprise, Proper Gentlemen, Joy of the Theatre, In the Middle There’s Me and Flash Bang Wallop/Half A Sixpence reprise.

Flo Evans

Playing ages 22-25 | Singing duet / solo lines / group | Dance ability yes | Dialogue Y++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Mezzo-soprano C4-E5

Female apprentice. A lovely young woman who has a robust sense of humour and is comfortable working in and around the young men. She holds a torch for Arthur who she finds funny and kind, recognising that he needs a degree of ‘looking after’ which appeals to her need to nurture. She loses out to Ann Pornick in the end, but does so with good grace as she recognises this will bring Arthur and Ann true happiness. Flo and Ann’s double-entendre-laden duet ‘Touch of Happiness’ is a highlight of the show. Flo is happily paired with the delightful Buggins by the end of the story and we should feel that this is an excellent match which will bring her the love she deserves and provide her with the family life she longs for. The musical numbers including this performer are Look Alive, Money to Burn + reprise, Proper Gentleman, Joy of the Theatre, Just A Little Touch of Happiness, In the Middle There’s Me, Flash Bang Wallop/Half A Sixpence reprise.

Sid Pornick

Playing ages 25-30 | Singing solo lines / group | Dance ability yes | Dialogue Y++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Baritone B2-E4

Ann’s brother and Arthur’s best friend and fellow apprentice. Sid Pornick is an intelligent and courageous young man, inspired by the rise of Marxist socialism. He is actively engaged in seeking improved conditions and representation for the working classes and grows in confidence in this respect as the story unfolds. A principled young man, he has concerns for Arthur when he ‘comes into money’ and he is also rightly protective of his sister’s happiness. However, he is also a good friend and his positive influence enables Arthur to find the clarity he needs to make the right decisions in the end. The musical numbers including this performer: Look Alive, Money to Burn + reprise, Proper Gentlemen, Joy of the Theatre, In the Middle There’s Me, Flash Bang Wallop/Half A Sixpence reprise.

Helen Walsingham

Playing ages 25-30 | Singing solos / duets | Dance ability Mover+ | Dialogue Y+++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Alto B flat 3 – D5

A confident and attractive young woman whose kind nature and social integrity should shine through her conventional upper class demeanour. She believes in educating the working classes and is inspired to try and help Arthur reach his potential in life. The true heroine of this story, she represents those from upper classes who were philanthropic and believed in educating the working classes to extend their social and political influence. Helen learns from her experiences with Arthur that her interventions were ultimately, unintentionally patronising. She is typical of a growing band of women who were striving to use their own education to make more positive use of their privileged lives. Despite allowing herself to be embroiled in the dark plot to secure Arthur’s money for the Walsinghams, the audience should be impressed with the integrity she ultimately shows, and her ability to learn. They should have faith in her future resilience. The musical numbers including this performer:  Believe in Yourself, Just A few Little Things, We’ll Build a Palace/Little House plus Proper Gentleman, Pick out a Simple Tune, and end of Rain’s Got to Fall.

James Walsingham

Playing ages 30-35 | Singing solo lines / group | Dance ability Mover+ | Dialogue Y++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Tenor / Baritone D3 – F#4

Upper class spoiled snob.  Attractive, smooth, confident, charming, privileged, self serving, avaricious, ambitious, scheming, morally duplicitous and not as intelligent as he thinks he is. Perhaps a career in politics would have been a better choice than financial management…. This is a decent part which also includes involvement in key ensemble and small group numbers: Look Alive, Proper Gentleman, Simple Lunch, If the Rain’s Got to Fall, Pick Out A Simple Tune, We’ll Build A Palace.  However, the performer playing this role would not be part of the big ensemble numbers Joy of the Theatre, If I Had Money to Burn or Flash Bang Wallop.

Mr Chitterlow

Playing ages 35-50 | Singing solos / duets | Dance ability yes | Dialogue Y++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Tenor B2 – G4

A somewhat mercurial character. A larger than life, flamboyant actor and playwright who clearly hails from an upper class background but whose family have probably been less than impressed with his theatrical lifestyle. He literally crashes on to the stage after his brakes fail on his bicycle. It is Chitterlow who recognises that Arthur’s circumstances match those of a young man who is being sought out as a result of having come into a large inheritance. As events unfold, Chitterlow remains a positive avuncular presence in Arti’s life, having first encouraged him to invest some of the inheritance in getting his play ‘Back the Right Horse’ produced onstage. Although this might initially seem slightly exploitative, this ultimately leads to Artie and Ann being able to open their own bookshop with Sid and Mary. It is important that the role of Chitterlow is played by a character performer with strong vocals and impressive physical agility- particularly necessary in the number “Joy of the Theatre’. Other numbers include Look Alive, Money to Burn, Proper Gentlemen, The One Who’s Run Away (duet with Kipps), Flash Bang Wallop reprise and possibly If the Rain’s Got to Fall.

Mrs Walsingham

Playing ages 50-65 | Singing solo lines / group | Dance ability Mover+ | Dialogue Y++ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Mezzo-soprano C4 – E5

The truth behind this harridan of a woman is that the Walsinghams were once much more wealthy and well-connected until her husband made some poor investment decisions which left the family poorer and somewhat socially embarrassed. There is no suggestion that the now deceased Mr Walsingham was in any way criminal, but that he was foolish and unlucky. As a result of her wanting to hide her embarrassment she overcompensates by behaving in an appallingly superior fashion towards nearly everyone she meets. She is an unpleasant snob of a woman who will stop at nothing to regain the financial security that will propel her back into the top echelons of Society. Despite the fact she does not respect Arthur as a person due to his lowly beginnings, she forces Helen into colluding with her plan to allow James to manage Arthur’s financial affairs, and having encouraged Helen to accept Arthur’s marriage proposal, proceeds to force him to spend his money on a large mansion for her own benefit. Her devastation when she is brought low by her son James’s criminal behaviour should feel like appropriate punishment. This performer can take part in the following musical numbers: Proper Gentleman, Simple Lunch, If the Rain’s Got to Fall, Pick Out A Simple Tune and We’ll Build A Palace. However, the performer playing this role will not be part of the big ensemble numbers Look Alive, Joy of the Theatre, If I Had Money to Burn or Flash Bang Wallop.

Lady Punnet

Playing ages 45-65 | Singing solo lines / group | Dance ability Mover | Dialogue Y+ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Sop / mezzo A3 – F5

The wealthiest member of the Upper Class set in Folkestone. However, it is important that she is not played merely as a posh caricature.  She is allowed a couple of key moments which show her to have better judgment and be more humane than others in this cohort. This is a decent part which also includes involvement in key chorus numbers and a featured small group number. Look Alive, Proper Gentleman, If the Rain’s Got to Fall, Pick Out A Simple Tune, We’ll Build A Palace. The performer playing this role would not be able to perform as part of the Working Class ensemble and therefore would not be part of the big ensemble numbers Joy of the Theatre, If I Had Money to Burn or Flash Bang Wallop.

Mrs Bindo-Botting

Playing ages 45-65 | Singing solo lines / group | Dance ability Mover | Dialogue Y | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Soprano A3 – A5

(Applies to Mrs Bindo Botting and Lady Dacre) Unremitting snobs. Quite hilarious one-liners and key singing moments which highlight their ridiculous snobbery. Plenty of ‘reacting’ also necessary from these fantastic examples of upper-class idiocy.  Musical Numbers: Look Alive, Proper Gentleman, If the Rain’s Got to Fall, Pick Out A Simple Tune. The performers playing these roles would not be able to perform as part of the Working Class ensemble and therefore would not be part of the big ensemble numbers Joy of the Theatre, If I Had Money to Burn or Flash Bang Wallop.

Lady Dacre

Playing ages 45-65 | Singing solo lines / group | Dance ability Mover | Dialogue Y | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Sop/mezzo A3 – F5

(Applies to Mrs Bindo Botting and Lady Dacre) Unremitting snobs. Quite hilarious one-liners and key singing moments which highlight their ridiculous snobbery. Plenty of ‘reacting’ also necessary from these fantastic examples of upper-class idiocy.  Musical Numbers: Look Alive, Proper Gentleman, If the Rain’s Got to Fall, Pick Out A Simple Tune. The performers playing these roles would not be able to perform as part of the Working Class ensemble and therefore would not be part of the big ensemble numbers Joy of the Theatre, If I Had Money to Burn or Flash Bang Wallop.

Mr Shalford

Playing ages 40-60 | Singing solo moment | Dance ability Mover | Dialogue Y+ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Baritone C3 – D4

He owns ‘Shalford’s Drapery Bazaar’. He is a self-made man who worked himself up from humbler beginnings and makes sure everyone knows it. His pompous pride and overbearing officious management style are evidence of a need to display how far he has come. He is the ultimate salesman, motivated by the need to make money and shift product and this will always be more important to him than any finer feelings associated with social convention. He is involved in a couple of scenes in the first half and the number Look Alive, but it is likely that the performer playing this character will then become part of the Upper Class Ensemble and therefore perform in If the Rain’s Got to Fall and Pick Out A Simple Tune. They will take part in Flash Bang Wallop either looking suitably different as a wedding guest, or in the role of the photographer.

Uncle Bert

Playing ages 50-65 | Singing Ens only | Dance ability Mover | Dialogue Y+ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) NA

(Apples to Aunt Susan and Uncle Bert) Orphaned from a young age, Arthur has been brought up by his Aunt Susan and Uncle Bert who in the original HG Wells story run a little shop in New Romney on the Kent coast. They feature in the opening moments, in a scene set at their home part way through Act One, and then in the finale wedding scene for Flash Bang Wallop/Half A Sixpence reprise. Uncle Bert has an additional moment during Act 2 when he brings the news of Kipps financial downfall. Given that they are not part of the Folkestone scene, the actors taking these roles would probably not take part in the big ensemble numbers Joy of the Theatre and If I Had Money to Burn. However, we would anticipate that the performers taking these roles could be made to look very different and appear as part of the Upper Class Ensemble in If the Rain’s Got to Fall and Pick Out A Simple Tune.

Aunt Susan

Playing ages 50-65 | Singing Ens only | Dance ability Mover | Dialogue Y+ | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) NA

(Apples to Aunt Susan and Uncle Bert) Orphaned from a young age, Arthur has been brought up by his Aunt Susan and Uncle Bert who in the original HG Wells story run a little shop in New Romney on the Kent coast. They feature in the opening moments, in a scene set at their home part way through Act One, and then in the finale wedding scene for Flash Bang Wallop/Half A Sixpence reprise. Uncle Bert has an additional moment during Act 2 when he brings the news of Kipps financial downfall. Given that they are not part of the Folkestone scene, the actors taking these roles would probably not take part in the big ensemble numbers Joy of the Theatre and If I Had Money to Burn. However, we would anticipate that the performers taking these roles could be made to look very different and appear as part of the Upper Class Ensemble in If the Rain’s Got to Fall and Pick Out A Simple Tune.

Mr Carshot

Playing ages 30-50 | Singing Solo line | Dance ability Mover+ | Dialogue (Y) | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Baritone C3 – E4

He is the Window Dresser at Shalford’s Bazaar with a few lines and featured singing moments in the two key shop scenes. Playing this role would not preclude this performer from being involved in any of the main chorus numbers.

Mr Maxwell

Playing ages 30-50 | Singing Group | Dance ability Mover+ | Dialogue (Y) | Vocal Range (C4 is middle C and B3 is immediately below it) Tenor / Baritone E3 – A4

This character is the architect who only features momentarily at Lady Punnet’s Musical evening and is included in the small group number We’ll Build A Palace/Little House.  It is likely that the performer who takes this role will be part of the Upper Class Ensemble and therefore also perform in the following numbers: Look Alive, Proper Gentleman, If the Rain’s Got To Fall, Pick Out A Simple Tune. However, If the performer playing this role is a strong dancer, it is also likely they will also be deployed in Money to Burn, Joy of the Theatre and Flash Bang Wallop (suitably disguised); moving men, as ever, being a precious resource.

Miss Ross

Playing ages 20-35 | Singing Ens only | Dance ability NA | Dialogue Y | Vocal Range NA

(Applies to Hayes and Miss Ross) These characters have a couple of lines in the Night Class scene. This will not preclude involvement in any other chorus numbers.  A Policeman, Forster the butler, Mary (Sid’s fiancée) and the Photographer also feature briefly as will the Landlord/Landlady of the Hope and Anchor.

Hayes

Playing ages 20-35 | Singing Ens only | Dance ability NA | Dialogue Y | Vocal Range NA

(Applies to Hayes and Miss Ross) These characters have a couple of lines in the Night Class scene. This will not preclude involvement in any other chorus numbers.  A Policeman, Forster the butler, Mary (Sid’s fiancée) and the Photographer also feature briefly as will the Landlord/Landlady of the Hope and Anchor.

Ensemble

The Working Class Ensemble will be involved in the following musical numbers: Look Alive, Money to Burn, Joy of the Theatre, Flash Bang Wallop/Half A Sixpence reprise. The Upper Class Ensemble will be involved in the following musical numbers: Look Alive, Proper Gentleman, If the Rain’s Got to Fall, Pick Out A Simple Tune. There will also be a designated group of dancers who will be featured in key sequences within these numbers. It is to be anticipated that that some of the men in the company and our featured dancers will be asked to perform as part of both ensembles, costume changes permitting.

Young Ann & Young Arthur

The show opens with a flashback scene to when Artie and Ann were younger – just as Arthur is leaving New Romney to go to his apprenticeship in Folkestone. They are childhood sweethearts on the cusp of adulthood. There is a lovely scene and song (Half A Sixpence) and after this moment the children do not appear again.  We will be looking for 2 boys and 2 girls from within the BROS membership with playing ages of 13/14 to form two pairs to share the rehearsals and performances. In order to maximise dressing room space, it is likely they will arrive in costume 30 minutes before the show, remain in the offstage area backstage with a chaperone until their scene is done, and then be collected about 10 minutes into the show. They can be brought back and chaperoned backstage by a parent for Bows at the end of the show if they’re staying to watch the show, but are not expected to stick around for Bows otherwise. A parent will be needed to attend any rehearsals the child is involved in, and in our usual rehearsal circumstances it is fine if that parent is in the show too. HOWEVERa parent involved in the show cannot chaperone backstage at the theatre for rehearsals and must have another parent/nominated family member over 18 present to take responsibility for the child in these moments. BROS TC will make arrangements to cover chaperoning for the short time necessary for each performance.

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Show Date: 31st May - 4th June 2021

Venue: Minack Theatre, Cornwall

Show Contact: committee@brostc.org

Key Dates

Event Name Date Time Location
Presentation evening September 15, 2020 TBC Online
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