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For the 1967 film adaptation, see Half a Sixpence.
Half a Sixpence
Music David Heneker
Lyrics David Heneker
Book Beverley Cross
Basis H.G. Wells's novel Kipps
Productions 1963 West End
1965 Broadway
1967 Film
2008 UK Tour

Half a Sixpence is a musical comedy written as a vehicle for British pop star Tommy Steele.

It is 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.

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.

Half a Sixpence transferred to Broadway in 1965, playing at the Broadhurst Theatre for 511 performances. This production also starred Steele. John Cleese played the small but crucial role of Walsingham, the stockbroker from a respectable family who embezzles Kipps' fortune. Half a Sixpence was the last West End show to transfer successfully to New York before the late 1970s and early 1980s musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

A 1967 film adaptation starring Steele was directed by George Sidney and choreographed by Gillian Lynne. Lesley Judd, a future presenter of the BBC children's TV series Blue Peter, was one of the dancing chorus.


Act I
  • All in The Cause of Economy - Arthur Kipps, Sid Pornick, Buggins and Pearce
  • Half A Sixpence - Arthur Kipps and Ann Pornick
  • Money to Burn - Arthur Kipps, Laura and The Men
  • A Proper Gentleman - Arthur Kipps, Sid Pornick, Buggins, Pearce and Shopgirls
  • She's Too Far Above Me - Arthur Kipps
  • If The Rain's Got To Fall - Arthur Kipps, Pearce, Sid Pornick, Buggins, Shopgirls, Singers and Dancers
  • The Old Military Canal - Singers
Act II
  • A Proper Gentleman (Reprise) - Arthur Kipps, Mrs. Walsingham, Helen Walsingham, Mrs. Botting, Young Walshingham and Party Guests
  • Long Ago - Arthur Kipps and Ann Pornick
  • Flash Bang Wallop - Arthur Kipps, Ann Pornick, Chitterlow, Mr. Shalford, Pearce, Sid Pornick, Buggins, Shopgirls and Singers
  • I Know What I Am - Ann Pornick
  • The Party's On The House - Arthur Kipps, Pearce, Sid Pornick, Buggins, Shopgirls, Singers and Dancers
  • Half A Sixpence (Reprise) - Arthur Kipps and Ann Pornick
  • All in The Cause of Economy (Reprise) - Flo, Pearce, Sid Pornick and Buggins
  • Finale - Entire Company

External links

Synopsis,musical numbers



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