Few companies make the effort to showcase the children who grow up to be sweethearts in much-loved musical Half a Sixpence.
Woodseats Musical Theatre Company put the audience in the picture by screening a film of a boy and a girl playing in picturesque countryside and the coin which changes their lives.
I suspect the footage was shot far closer to home than Kent where the musical is set, but it was a delightful start to a beautifully judged production.
The opening performance last night (Wednesday) coincided with the cycling Grand Prix around Sheffield which may account for the ten-minute delay in curtain up at the Montgomery Theatre. Ian Brady captured the excitement of the night by riding his bike on stage in his role as flamboyant actor Chitterlow.
Leading man Adam Walker proved a star turn by projecting his voice as best he could when his mic failed halfway through the all-important wedding scene. His singing and dancing were sublime throughout as was his characterisation of Arthur Kipps, the shop boy whose head is turned by a posh girl but whose heart belongs to a servant. The marathon role begs for plenty of emotion and Adam didn’t disappoint.
Rebecca Stowe was perfect for the role of love interest Ann Pornick, her voice blending well with Adam’s in the title song and her acting was convincing in scenes where the star-crossed sweethearts bickered and then made up.
Elsa Russell played posh girlfriend Helen Walsingham with just the right degree of haughtiness and despair at her boyfriend’s lack of social graces.
The cast included a number of Derbyshire performers including Marilyn Barker, of Dronfield, playing aristocratic Mrs Walsingham, Peter Crown, also of Dronfield, as her no-good son William Walsingham and Mike Richardson, of Calver, in the role of shop owner Mr Shalford.
Spectacular dancing and colourful scenes set in a dress shop and a pub, at the seaside and a canal regatta provided a treat for the eyes and kept scene-shifters busy.
Directed by Mary Newey with musical direction by Matthew Moore and choreography by Martha Lamb, this production of Half a Sixpence runs at the Montgomery Theatre until Saturday, July 23.