British Charmer Half a Sixpence Begins Goodspeed Run July 11

News   British Charmer Half a Sixpence Begins Goodspeed Run July 11
 
Broadway's Sara Gettelfinger and Drama Desk nominee Jon Peterson are London sweethearts in Goodspeed Musicals' new production of Half a Sixpence, based on an H.G. Wells novel, beginning July 11 for a run to Sept. 19 at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT.
Jon Peterson is Arthur Kipps (center) with Cameron Henderson, Wes Hart and Eric Shorey.
Jon Peterson is Arthur Kipps (center) with Cameron Henderson, Wes Hart and Eric Shorey. Photo by Diane Sobolewski

Wells, known for the sci-fi novels "The Invisible Man" and "The Time Machine," was more domestic with "Kipps," the novel that inspired Half a Sixpence. It's the romantic story of a Cockney lad named Arthur Kipps, who wins a fortune and loses his girl because of it, features music and lyrics by David Heneker and a book by Beverley Cross.

The musical comedy was a vehicle for toothy Tommy Steele in London, on Broadway and in a film version. The score is known for its boisterous uptempo numbers and "If the Rain's Got to Fall." Gordon Greenberg (Happy Days, Pirates of Penzance) directs. Opening is Aug. 6.

Peterson (a Drama Desk Award nominee for his work in George M. Cohan Tonight!) is Kipps, Gettelfinger (Broadway's Seussical, Nine and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) is Ann with Julia Osborne as Helen; Jeff Skowron as Chitterlow; James Judy as Mr. Shalford; Donna English as rich Mrs. Walsingham; Carrington Vilmont as Young Walsingham; Adriene Couvillion as Laura; Desireé Davar; Danny Gardner as Sid; Wes Hart as Pearce; Cameron Henderson as Buggins; Elise Kinnon; Peter Leskowicz; Kate Marilley; Caroline Massagee; Cheryl McMahon as Mrs. Botting; Rod Roberts as Carshot; and Eric Shorey. The male swing is Colby Q. Lindeman, and the female swing is Katie Warner Johnson.

When it arrived on Broadway in 1965, after premiering in London, the show was nominated for eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Actor in a Musical. The score was preserved on a London cast album and a Broadway cast album, and a film version (with new numbers) starred Steele.

Director Greenberg, who said the Goodspeed production will be a "hybrid" of the London and Broadway versions, told Playbill.com: "It's been a total pleasure to discover the joyous score and great British humor of Sixpence. The show is so clearly a product of the 1960s, when social class distinctions were just beginning to break down in England and theatre music was unabashedly tuneful and brassy. It feels huge! There are seven production numbers and a whole raft of outlandish characters, all based on the great H.G. Wells novel. It's like stumbling upon another Me and My Girl crossed with Hello, Dolly! Patti Colombo is a force of nature — her choreography is thrilling. And the cast is amazingly talented. I'm in awe of their stamina." The 1960s saw a burst of British musicals coming to Broadway. In addition to Half a Sixpence, Oliver!; Stop the World – I Want to Get Off; and The Roar of the Greasepaint - the Smell of the Crowd excited New York audiences.

Goodspeed bills the story this way: "The story of Arthur Kipps, a young man working in a small London shop as a draper's assistant who unexpectedly inherits a fortune. As he climbs up the social ladder, Kipps discovers romance and excitement before losing everything and realizing that although you can't buy happiness, true love is priceless."

Wells himself was a one-time draper's assistant, and his job helped inspire the novel "Kipps," which also offered his socialist views on distribution of wealth.

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Patti Colombo (the recent Cathy Rigby productions of Peter Pan) choreographs. The creative team also includes set designer Rob Bissinger, costume designer David C. Woolard, lighting designer Jeff Croiter, music director Michael O'Flaherty, assistant music director F. Wade Russo, orchestrator Dan DeLange and dance arranger Gregory M. Brown. Half a Sixpence is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.

For tickets call (860) 873-8668 or visit www.goodspeed.org.

Cameron Henderson, Wes Hart, and Eric Shorey of <i>Half a Sixpence</i>.
Cameron Henderson, Wes Hart, and Eric Shorey of Half a Sixpence. Photo by Diane Sobolewski
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