REVIEW: Half a Sixpence, University Drama Studio

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Handsworth and Hallam Theatre Company’s version of this classic musical is a sweet-natured affair.

Arthur Kipps goes from rags to riches and back again to prove the old adage, that money can’t buy you happiness. Or love for that matter.

Mark Holmes as Kipps puts his heart and soul into his performance. He is on stage practically 99 percent of the time and barely gets a chance to catch his breath. The best tune he thumps out is Flash, Bang, Wallop! (Stick it in the family album) helped by the rest of his wedding party, dressed in terrific period costume. Their dancing is choreographed by Claire Harriott.

Mark shares an easy chemistry with working class love interest Ann, played by real life wife, Helen Holmes. A class divide and a mother in law from hell puts paid to his romance with Helen Walsingham, played by Emma Townend however.

Steve Mather lights up the stage as Chitterlow, the bonkers thespian who helps Kipps on his way to ill fortune. Mark Harris is enjoyably despicable as snooty Young Walsingham who swindles Kipps. The shop girls have a hand in one of many comic set pieces. As Kipps is, for once, giving miserable boss, Shalford, a dressing down, they cover their faces in synchronised and mouthed shock-horror.

The Company are to be commended for the stage construction. The backdrops showing Kipps’s drapery shop and the “Crystal Palace” were tremendous. The live sextet of musicians adding impact to the songs .