Half A Sixpence

Half A Sixpence is a musical comedy written as a vehicle for British pop star Tommy Steele. It is based on H.G. Wells’s novel Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul. Music and lyrics are by David Heneker.

Half a Sixpence transferred to Broadway and opened on April 25, 1965, playing at the Broadhurst Theatre for 511 performances. This production also starred Steele. John Cleese played the small but crucial role of Walsingham, the stockbroker from a respectable family who embezzles Kipps’ fortune.

Half a Sixpence was the last West End show to transfer successfully to New York before the late 1970s and early 1980s musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Steele plays Arthur Kipps, an orphan, who lives and works with other apprentices for the cruel draper, Mr. Shalford. After learning that he is inheriting a fortune, Arthur tries to join the upper class and gets engaged to the wealthy Helen Walsingham. Soon, though, Arthur realizes that his true love is his childhood sweetheart, Ann. Eventually Arthur loses all of his newfound wealth but still marries Ann and lives happily ever after while realizing that you just can’t buy happiness.

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