I was very lucky to be invited on Tuesday, courtesy of Raw PR, to the Noel Coward Theatre for an evening of joyous fun surrounding the wonderful show that is Half A Sixpence.
First up on the agenda was a banjo demonstration from Charlie Stemp, who plays the lead role of Arthur Kipps in the show. Charlie is warm and cheeky, and we immediately feel at ease around him. He told us that he originally was only up for an ensemble role in the show, and assumed he would just be played the understudy Arthur, so was really shocked when he was offered the lead role! Charlie also learnt the banjo in the space of three weeks, and with the amount of playing he does in the show, this was a pretty impressive feat! He played a little for us, and then spoke about his audition process (eleven auditions) and how much fun he’s having in the show, and what a lovely cast he works with.
We were then whisked up onto the stage (That’s two West End stages I’ve now stood on…) and taught a sequence of the choreography to ‘Flash Bang Wallop’ by the lovely Jaye Juliette Elster, the dance captain for the show, assisted by super swing Samantha Hull. Now, myself and my lovely plus one Joseph had no idea that dance was going to be involved so we were a little bit intimidated (and I hadn’t had a chance to warm up), but both Jaye and Samantha made us all feel at ease. I was practically sweating by the time we’d finished, the choreography is so energetic! It wasn’t until after that they told us we’d only learnt ten seconds of the song! All I can say is that I’ll be whacking out these moves at every pre-drinks I go to…
Next, we had a short Q&A with Charlie, Emma Williams (Helen Walshingham), Bethany Huckle (Flo), and Sam O’Rourke (Buggins). They were all so lovely and indulged us with some funny stage stories such as the motorbike in the final scene stalling so half the cast had try and push it off whilst the other were pretending to wave it off! We also asked them about their favourite numbers in the show – Charlie likes ‘If the Rain’s Got to Fall’ because of the dancing, the same reason Emma enjoys ‘Pick Out a Simple Tune’. Bethany said she enjoys ‘A Little Touch of Happiness’ because not only does she get to sing naughty innuendos, but she gets to perform it with Devon (Ann).
After saying goodbye to the cast to allow them to warm up, we headed upstairs for drinks before seeing the show, which I yet again thoroughly enjoyed!
After the show, we were treated to a backstage tour by the stage manager, which gave use a chance to see where all the props are kept (so many umbrellas!) and even have a peek inside the quick-change dressing room.
I had such a fantastic evening at the Noel Coward theatre, and feel incredibly lucky to have been invited! Thank you once again to Raw PR and the entire team at Half a Sixpence for making us feel so welcome.