First leading role as Jonny Jones tackles Kipps in Horsham

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Jonny Jones is relishing his first chance to play the leading man – Arthur Kipps in Kipps: The New Half a Sixpence Musical.

The show comes from HAODS and will be at The Capitol Theatre in Horsham from May 14-18. It’s not the Half A Sixpence we all might have seen before, as Jonny explains.

“The main difference is that Half A Sixpence was put together for Tommy Steele from what I'm aware, and it was basically a musical based around one person. The musical was quite skewed and one-person heavy, and from what I understand the guys that took Mary Poppins to the West End went back to Half A Sixpence and they looked at it and thought this is a really good show but too much about one person. They realised that they could expand the story and do a little bit more with the other characters and so that's what this is. It's still very much about the main character but you've got the other characters much more fleshed out.

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“I went to see (the new version of Kipps) when they did it in Worthing quite recently and I think what was really interesting was how differently they did theirs Kipps to the way that I am doing my Kipps. The way that I see him is a little bit different. You can play him as wide eyed and naive which he is but as I am a little bit older I can't play him as 19. I could probably pass for early to mid-20s at best, but I didn't want to make him completely wide-eyed and naive. I wanted to make him someone who just kind of bumbles through life and goes with the flow, as someone who stands up for himself but only when other people stand up to him and point out what he is doing wrong. I wanted him to be the sort of naive that you get when you are perhaps a bit older in life.”

Jonny Jones (contributed pic)Jonny Jones (contributed pic)
Jonny Jones (contributed pic)

There is certainly complexity in the character, not least in his relationship with the two women in his life, Ann representing his past and perhaps his future and Helen representing his new money in the present: “Ann is a funny character. They have not seen each other for ten years and then she gets upset because he's found someone else but we have really lovely dynamic between the three of us. It's a really nice dynamic in the way that you do naturally feel sorry for Helen but you have to not concentrate on that too much for the big finale with Ann because you don't want to be thinking ‘Oh! what about Helen?’ I feel it works in a way because you feel that Kipps should always be with Ann. It's just that he is not with her all the time.

“I joined HAODS last year. I have done a lot with COS Musical Theatre in Crawley. I have been with them since 2015 or 2016 and I've done two or three shows a year with them ever since. But I joined HAODS last year. I had just had my daughter and I wasn't going to do a show. My wife was doing Grease with COS but I got a phone call from somebody saying that someone had dropped out of Betty Blue Eyes with HAODS, it was just a small part and would I come along. Thankfully it worked out with rehearsals on a different night and so I did it.”

Jonny is also with a company in Redhill, so it became a question of what shows the three companies were doing next: “COS are doing Made In Dagenham which I'm sure is brilliant but I wanted to do Kipps. I've always played the supporting characters and I've never played the big main character before, the big lead. Being 31 there are not so many years left where I can play the big handsome young man! And I wanted to have that experience and thankfully they took me on.

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“The rehearsals are really fun and it's going well but it is such a massive part. You don't really have time to stop and think about it. There 112 pages of script and I think Kipps isn't in only about 20 of them. It is a monstrous part to play. You just have to get your head down and learn it but I am really, really enjoying it.”