British Musical Comedy Half a Sixpence Opens at Goodspeed Aug. 6

News   British Musical Comedy Half a Sixpence Opens at Goodspeed Aug. 6 Half a Sixpence, the musical comedy about a London shop assistant tempted by money, opens in a rare revival at Goodspeed Opera House Aug. 6 in Connecticut.
Jon Peterson and Sara Gettelfinger
Jon Peterson and Sara Gettelfinger Photo by Diane Sobolewski

The tale of a Cockney lad named Arthur Kipps (played by Jon Peterson, a Drama Desk Award nominee for George M. Cohan Tonight!), who wins a fortune and loses his girl Ann (played by Sara Gettelfinger) because of it, features music and lyrics by David Heneker and a book by Beverley Cross.

The musical comedy was a 1960s vehicle for toothy Tommy Steele in London, on Broadway and in a film version. The score is known for its boisterous uptempo numbers "Flash Bang Wallop" and "Money to Burn" and the syncopated "If The Rain's Got to Fall," plus such ballads as "Long Ago," "She's Too Far Above Me," "I Know What I Am" and the duet title song. Gordon Greenberg (Happy Days, Pirates of Penzance) directs.

Goodspeed Musicals' new production of Half a Sixpence, inspired by an H.G. Wells novel, began July 11 and will continue to Sept. 19 in East Haddam, CT.

Joining Peterson and Gettelfinger (Broadway's Seussical, Nine and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) are 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.

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. 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."

The show is set in 1900. Wells is known for his sci-fi books "The Time Machine" and "The Invisible Man."

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

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The Goodpeed production's list of musical numbers includes: "All in the Cause of Economy"
"Half a Sixpence"
"Money to Burn"
"A Proper Gentleman"
"She's Too Far Above Me"
"If the Rain's Got to Fall"
"The Old Military Canal"
"A Proper Gentleman" (reprise)
"Long Ago"
"Flash Bang Wallop"
"I Know What I Am"
"The Party's on the House"
"Half a Sixpence" (reprise)

A scene from <i>Half a Sixpence</i> at Goodspeed
A scene from Half a Sixpence at Goodspeed Photo by Diane Sobolewski