It’s taken me far too long to see this show. As soon as its return to the West End was announced, I vowed I would get tickets as soon as possible. As you can tell from my lack of posts, (trust me, they’re all to come) life got in the way. I booked last minute tickets when I found myself in London with not much to do with my evening. It’s a shameful confession to make but I don’t actually know the story of ‘Half a Sixpence’. According to my mum I watched the film when I was younger but I don’t remember. It was refreshing to go and see a show not knowing what it’s about and how it ends; something I don’t get to experience very often.
I had a read through the programme before the show started and I was excited by Emma Williams (Helen Walsingham) and Ian Bartholomew (Chitterlow); both of whom are Olivier nominated actors (and one win for Emma). The other cast member I was really looking forward to seeing was leading man Charlie Stemp; he has previously been in the Wicked ensemble and played the role of Eddie in the international tour of Mamma Mia. Although this isn’t an extensive list of theatre experience, I have heard rave reviews about his performance in the show.
The problem with rave reviews is that it sets expectations and I wander into gorgeous theatres such as the Noël Coward Theatre and sit there waiting to be blown away by this apparently phenomenal leading man. It’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Although Charlie energetically comes bouncing onto the stage, there is something unassuming about him. He doesn’t have that typical aura of a leading man that commands the stage and his audience. He works in perfect harmony with everyone else on the stage and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.
He is a true triple threat; his portrayal of Arthur Kipps is funny and heartwarming, you can’t help but be endeared to him. He shows a naïvety that moves an audience and gets them on his side through everything. It’s a character we can all identify with in one way or another; his longing for something more, his mistakes in love and life and the wonderful friendships he develops along the way. Charlie’s voice was incredible and his dancing was flawless. As I watched him effortlessly tap dance around the stage, all I could think about was how much he reminded me of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. An incredible talent. His energy was second to none; I watched in awe as he bounded his way around the stage, jumping up onto bars and performing incredible routines as if it was the easiest thing in the world to do. On the rare occasion when my eyes would move to someone else for a few seconds during a dance number, I felt a pang of guilt and all I could think was…
“Watch him! Don’t take your eyes off him! He’s too amazing to miss even for a second!”
I can’t sum up exactly how fantastic Charlie was in this show. During intervals I scribble little notes for my blog on what I want to say; it may be a note about a particular song, a stand-out member of the ensemble, whether I had seen the cast member in anything before. I left that theatre shaking and speaking about Charlie brought tears to my eyes, the night was a bit of a whirlwind and when I got home I looked at my notes and next to Charlie’s picture was one word… Captivating.