Musical rich in style and feeling

Cast members of Half a Sixpence, presented by St Cuthbert's Operatic and Dramatic Society. (s)
Cast members of Half a Sixpence, presented by St Cuthbert's Operatic and Dramatic Society. (s)

Beyond its knees-up vibe, musical Half a Sixpence has the ingredients for an emotional punch. But this year’s revival at the Chichester Festival Theatre was criticised for lacking heart despite its aesthetics.

The 1963 original, written as a channel for British pop star Tommy Steele, set a high yardstick for style.

But as an adaptation of H. G. Well’s 1905 novel, Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul, a satire on social mobility, it’s premised on the idea that love is the key to happiness.

So you’d think, in today’s age of cuts, foodbanks and rebellion against the elite, a theatre company would capitalise on the charm of an orphan who inherits a fortune and climbs the social ladder.

In the presentation by St Cuthbert’s Operatic and Dramatic Society, however, Blue Blezard captured all the vibrancy of Steele’s Arthur Kipps with an easiness in dance and comedy.

Yet this was also down to a multi-layered performance. Blezard’s Kipps was goofy, extroverted, thoughtful, gentle - the kind of intricacy needed to provide the heart-warming potency of the musical’s ultimate message that wealth and social status do not make us whole.

Vivacious support was also provided: Hayley Watson-Reid, for example, sharpened Ann Pornick’s feistiness while Robin Reid and Blake Morris both cut dynamic figures.

Blezard certainly invested his role with plenty of performative flash; but he also followed this with an emotional bang and a wallop.

The show will run tonight and tomorrow at 7-15pm at St Cuthbert’s Community Church Hall, Burnley.

Book tickets on 01282 534519.