Chichester Festival Theatre and Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Half a Sixpence will introduce two young actors – Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps* and Devon-Elise Johnson as Ann Pornick – alongside actor Ian Bartholomew as Chitterlow, actress Emma Williams as Helen Walsingham and Vivien Parry as Mrs Walsingham.
Playing in the Festival Theatre from 14 July until 3 September, this new stage version of Half a Sixpence, the musical adaptation of H.G. Wells’ disguised autobiographical novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul, is a completely fresh adaptation which reunites book-writer Julian Fellowes (Oscar-winning screenwriter and creator of Downton Abbey) with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the musical team that co-creator Cameron Mackintosh first put together to create the hit stage adaptation of Mary Poppins with Disney. The score is inspired by and features several of composer David Heneker’s songs from the original production, including ‘Flash Bang Wallop’, ‘Money to Burn’ and ‘Half a Sixpence’.
Charlie Stemp and Devon-Elise Johnson have both recently completed the international tour of Mamma Mia! Stemp has also appeared in Wicked in the West End, while Johnson’s London theatre credits include Taboo, and Susan Parks in Billy Elliot as a child performer.
Ian Bartholomew’s extensive West End credits include Mrs Henderson Presents, for which he received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical; Into the Woods and Radio Times, Shakespeare in Love, Tommy, Dead Funny and many roles for the National Theatre.
Emma Williams is currently playing Maureen in Mrs Henderson Presents, for which she received her third Olivier Award nomination. Her London theatre credits also include Jenny in Love Story (which premiered at Chichester) and Luisa in Zorro. She made her West End debut as Truly Scrumptious in the original cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and went on to play leading roles in Bat Boy: The Musical and Desperately Seeking Susan.
Vivien Parry’s stage work includes The Girls (UK tour); A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Shoemaker’s Holiday (RSC); Top Hat, Mamma Mia! and Fame in the West End.
Half a Sixpence will be directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and designed by Paul Brown, with choreography by Andrew Wright and orchestrations by William David Brohn. The musical supervisors will be Stephen Brooker and Graham Hurman, who will also conduct; with lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter and video design by Luke Halls.
*Due to a scheduling conflict, Chichester Festival Theatre agreed to release Bryan Dick, who was previously announced to play Kipps, from his commitment to Half a Sixpence. He will continue with his role in Hobson’s Choice in the West End.