Half a Sixpence

Kiss Me Kate5th - 9th April 2011

The Story

The time is 1900 - the scene is the seaside resort of Folkestone in the South of England. Half A Sixpence opens on a spring morning in Shalford's Drapery Emporium where young Arthur Kipps, an orphan, works and lives as an apprentice draper. He and his three fellow apprentices are constantly hustled and bullied by Shalford, the owner, so, after a hard day, they meet and sing their anthem of hate - All In The Cause Of Economy.

Ann, Kipps's childhood sweetheart, arrives. Since she is in domestic service they don't get much chance to see each other and he, feeling a lover's token might help the romance, produces two halves of a sixpence - Half A Sixpence.

Next day, an actor-playwright, Chitterlow, bursts into the shop with a local paper that says a firm of solicitors are looking for an Arthur Kipps as they have information which may be to his advantage. Kipps and his friends celebrate with Kipps being asked how he would spend the money if he's truly inherited a fortune - Money To Burn.

Kipps, forced by Shalford to join a Workers Evening Class, finds himself suddenly falling in love with the attractive lady in charge of the group, Helen Walsingham. His new romance is helped when he learns that he has really come into money - A Proper Gentleman.

Kipps is haunted by the fear that the cultured, aristocratic Helen is too good for him - She's Too Far Above Me. Regardless of his fears, he makes a tentative proposal to Helen and she asks him to wait for her decision until the night of the annual regatta. Kipps is worried that it may rain - If The Rain's Got To Fall.

All is well on the big night. Kipps proposes and is accepted by Helen. Yet, as time goes on, he realizes he is not really at ease in her world - a world of pretensions and snobbery. They quarrel as he rushes off to find Ann, his first and true love. She agrees to marry him and confesses that she has loved him ever since they were children - Long Ago.

Ann and Kipps are married - and photographed - Flash, Bang, Wallop! But now Kipps is ambitious to climb the social scale. Ann wants none of that - I Know What I Am. On the site for his new home, Kipps meets with his old friends from the shop - The Party's On The House. Like a bolt from the blue comes the news that Kipps's fortune has been lost. At first it seems a tragedy, but then Ann and Kipps are reconciled and find their happiness - and Kipps has found himself - Finale.