Character building in Dibley

Still laughing well into rehearsal

Still laughing well into rehearsal

Comedic character parts abound in Musical Theatre Gisborne’s stage production of The Vicar of Dibley and relishing their part in a subplot are Grant Miller as Hugo Horton and Olivia White as Alice Tinker.

A long-time fan of the TV series, White loves her role as verger and Sunday school teacher, Alice. Alice is kind-hearted but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Which possibly makes her a good match for Hugo, the gauche, slow-witted son of the parish council chairman – the wealthy, short tempered and pompous David Horton. Alice is Hugo’s love-interest but despite the new vicar Geraldine’s efforts the show’s goofiest two characters fumble along in a will-they won’t-they manner.

The main plot is as simple as Alice. Not only do Dibley’s conservative villagers have to deal with the fact the new vicar is a woman, but after a stained-glass window of the church is smashed in a storm a fundraising effort is launched to pay for a replacement.

To help raise money everyone is required to give up something such as swearing, or in Hugo’s case, lustful thoughts. Whenever a parishioner breaks the rule he or she has to put money in the fundraising pot.

Hugo is at a parish council meeting when Alice brings in the tea. What with her oblivious bending down while at some errand Hugo quickly runs out of coins.

“We still laugh at the script,” says White.

“We’ve been over it a million times but in rehearsal it still cracks me up. I grew up watching The Vicar of Dibley.”

Phrases from the TV series abounded in the White household.

“When I auditioned for the part of Alice I pretty much knew her lines. Alice is dim and blonde and lovely. Everything she says, you want to say ‘honeey . . .’ and want to give her a hug.

“Her heart’s in the right place but her brain is not.”

Hugo, on the other hand, is a complicated character, says Miller.

“I’m loyal to my dad but sympathetic to the new vicar.”

In a handful of lines Hugo does however manage to throw his father under the bus.

“My character doesn’t realise he’s doing it. It’s like unintended sarcasm.”

As far as his feelings for Alice go, socially awkward Hugo doesn’t have the gumption to act on them, says Miller.

Can’t we just shake hands? he asks Alice at one point.

“It’s a good way of expressing affection without getting wet.”

Happily, they have Geraldine on hand as matchmaker. But will they, won’t they . . . ?

The stage version of The Vicar of Dibley is scripted as a theatrical comedy with recognisable moments from the TV series. But since the show is a Musical Theatre Gisborne production, director Gavin Maclean has seamlessly threaded it with a selection of songs. Music has been chosen and, in some places, written by maestro Maclean, and is performed with the backing of a small choir.

“The creative genius of Gavin Maclean means it’s smartly woven through with Christmas carols and Christmas hymns and original music,” says White.

The Vicar of Dibley, Musical Theatre Gisborne, Innes Street. November 23, 26-30, 7.30pm, November 24, 2pm. Book at Ticketek or Lawson Field Theatre.

Comedic character parts abound in Musical Theatre Gisborne’s stage production of The Vicar of Dibley and relishing their part in a subplot are Grant Miller as Hugo Horton and Olivia White as Alice Tinker.

A long-time fan of the TV series, White loves her role as verger and Sunday school teacher, Alice. Alice is kind-hearted but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Which possibly makes her a good match for Hugo, the gauche, slow-witted son of the parish council chairman – the wealthy, short tempered and pompous David Horton. Alice is Hugo’s love-interest but despite the new vicar Geraldine’s efforts the show’s goofiest two characters fumble along in a will-they won’t-they manner.

The main plot is as simple as Alice. Not only do Dibley’s conservative villagers have to deal with the fact the new vicar is a woman, but after a stained-glass window of the church is smashed in a storm a fundraising effort is launched to pay for a replacement.

To help raise money everyone is required to give up something such as swearing, or in Hugo’s case, lustful thoughts. Whenever a parishioner breaks the rule he or she has to put money in the fundraising pot.

Hugo is at a parish council meeting when Alice brings in the tea. What with her oblivious bending down while at some errand Hugo quickly runs out of coins.

“We still laugh at the script,” says White.

“We’ve been over it a million times but in rehearsal it still cracks me up. I grew up watching The Vicar of Dibley.”

Phrases from the TV series abounded in the White household.

“When I auditioned for the part of Alice I pretty much knew her lines. Alice is dim and blonde and lovely. Everything she says, you want to say ‘honeey . . .’ and want to give her a hug.

“Her heart’s in the right place but her brain is not.”

Hugo, on the other hand, is a complicated character, says Miller.

“I’m loyal to my dad but sympathetic to the new vicar.”

In a handful of lines Hugo does however manage to throw his father under the bus.

“My character doesn’t realise he’s doing it. It’s like unintended sarcasm.”

As far as his feelings for Alice go, socially awkward Hugo doesn’t have the gumption to act on them, says Miller.

Can’t we just shake hands? he asks Alice at one point.

“It’s a good way of expressing affection without getting wet.”

Happily, they have Geraldine on hand as matchmaker. But will they, won’t they . . . ?

The stage version of The Vicar of Dibley is scripted as a theatrical comedy with recognisable moments from the TV series. But since the show is a Musical Theatre Gisborne production, director Gavin Maclean has seamlessly threaded it with a selection of songs. Music has been chosen and, in some places, written by maestro Maclean, and is performed with the backing of a small choir.

“The creative genius of Gavin Maclean means it’s smartly woven through with Christmas carols and Christmas hymns and original music,” says White.

The Vicar of Dibley, Musical Theatre Gisborne, Innes Street. November 23, 26-30, 7.30pm, November 24, 2pm. Book at Ticketek or Lawson Field Theatre.

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