Half A Sixpence marks six months on the West End stage, and myself and a number of bloggers were invited along to help celebrate what a triumph, what a triumph (it is)! We were lucky enough to be given an exclusive behind the scenes look at the show, including a banjo lesson, Q&A with the cast, and more…
There was definitely a buzz of excitement and laughter as we entered the theatre foyer. The excitement because Half A Sixpence is one of the hottest tickets in town. The laughter I realised was my own, as I looked at the schedule for the night:
As you might remember from the amazing In the Heights party, I love a good dance! But as you may also remember, I’m not the most natural of dancers. It’s less Flash Bang Wallop, more Crash Bang Wambulance! But as soon as we entered the theatre, any nervous laughter turned to excitement. Dancing on the actual stage of the Noel Coward theatre, we learned a bit of the big show stopping number: ‘Flash Bang Wallop’. It was intense! And it was just a ten second section of a three minute song! Thankfully, though, we were led by the immensely talented and lovely Jaye Juliette Elster and ensemble who helped us all along. So it turns out no-one’s immune if you pick out a simple tune! Below is an image of the actual cast rehearsing these moves, the other is of us doing the same move. Can you guess which is which!
We were then treated to a banjo lesson with Arthur Kipps himself, Charlie Stemp. I learned a few things:
- Charlie is just as sweet as his character
- A banjo is surprisingly heavy
- In a show where the main character has to play the banjo while singing and dancing, Charlie can sing, dance but did not know how to play the banjo pre-rehearsals!
Then it was onto a Q&A with members of the cast, including Charlie, Emma Williams (Helen), Bethany Huckle (Flo), and Sam O’Rourke (Buggins). The full interview will be online later this week, but here are some things we learned…
- Motorbikes aren’t always mobile
- Nor are set pieces
- And when these things happen, sometimes all you can do is smile and wave, boys…smile and wave!
Then it was onto the show. And Half A Sixpence is better and better than ever. I saw the Press Night last year, and you can read what I thought of it in my full review here. A notable change was Rebecca Jayne Davies who came on for Devon-Elise Johnson as a charming and very cheeky Ann. There were a couple of subtle changes too: ‘Back the Right Horse’ is almost unrecognisable from the cast CD version, there are a couple of wording changes, and additions which aren’t on the recording. But other things stayed the same: energetic, exuberant and truly ensemble.
After the show, it was backstage for a tour with Company Manager Kristi Warwick who had overseen proceedings for the evening. She spoke to us about staging the show, bringing it from Chichester to the West End, and let us explore backstage ourselves, aka how many bloggers can you fit in a quick change room!) Some of my favourite secrets she shared include revolves, sprinklers and seagulls!
Thanks again to the cast and crew of Half A Sixpence for welcoming us, and to Raw PR for organising it all.