The vicar, and the director, of Dibley

SINGING FROM THE SAME HYMN SHEET: As director of Musical Theatre Gisborne’s production of The Vicar of Dibley, Gavin Maclean has woven in a few musical moments and he has adapted it to the Christmas season. Pictures supplied
WELCOME TO DIBLEY: Having played one of the three ewes in Musical Theatre Gisborne’s production of Footrot Flats, and more recently made an appearance in the company’s Mamma Mia, Quannah Nickerson has now taken on the role of Reverend Geraldine Granger in MTG’s production of The Vicar of Dibley. Picture supplied

“A few people said I should audition,” says Nickerson who landed the lead role in Musical Theatre Gisborne’s upcoming production of the stage play version of the popular sitcom.

“They said I looked like her. I am a fairly cheerful person. Geraldine is actually really clever. I like her cheerful energy.

“When she walks in she lights up a room. With the MTG cast that just happens because they are so much fun.”

Nickerson had seen little of The Vicar of Dibley on TV so she has been watching episodes on YouTube to get a sense of the characters and their mannerisms.

“We’re all doing a little bit of that, mimicking the TV characters. We’re doing the show pretty true to the TV series but you bring your own flair to your character too. They’re all very strong, very eccentric characters.”

Returning to theatre is a full circle for Nickerson.

“I’ve acted with most of the cast before. I was 10 when I was in The Sound of Music with Dave Newsham. Many years ago Treva Rice and I performed in Stars in Their Eyes. And Gavin Maclean directed me in Little Orphan Annie, and Orpheus In The Underworld when I was 14.”

Director Maclean is happy to have the opportunity to return to the music-theatre world.

“It was a great treat to encounter the clever compilation by George Arthur-Amohau of scenes from numerous episodes of The Vicar of Dibley; a talented cast that matched the character requirements so beautifully, and the inspired dialogue lines which can still make us laugh after many weeks of rehearsal.”

Maclean has condensed the play a little to weave in musical moments and he has adapted it to the Christmas season.

He has even made his own contributions to the music but deprecatingly says this is not the same as composing music.

“Perhaps it’s compositing — thrusting whimsical melodic elements together because they fit the story, or in a possibly amusing way do not.

“I have relied on the skills of Chris Reynolds at the keyboard to knit these together, and add his own improvisations.”

The Vicar of Dibley’s original theme music, The Lord Is My Shepherd by Howard Goodhall, is used more extensively in the MTG show than in the TV series. Under Maclean, the stage production includes a choir.

“Sometimes a church choir, sometimes a handful of raffish carol singers perform a suitably zany mixture of words to a traditional Anglican chant.”

Talented actor and soprano Rosie West is accompanied by a choral backing when she sings the Edward Heyman and Victor Young 1952 favourite When I Fall in Love.

The show’s dialogue though, is entirely from the original series by Richard Curtis (co-creator of Blackadder) and Paul Mayhew-Archer.

When Reverend Geraldine Granger arrives at Dibley to take on the role of vicar, she encounters a bunch of eccentric English villagers. She reacts with warmth and humour to this strange world though, says Maclean.

“It is a demanding role, beautifully interpreted by Quannah.”

  • Musical Theatre Gisborne presents The Vicar of Dibley. Lawson Field Theatre. November 23, 26-30, 7.30pm, November 24, 2pm. Tickets available from Ticketek or iSITE — not from the Lawson Field Theatre as previously advertised.

“A few people said I should audition,” says Nickerson who landed the lead role in Musical Theatre Gisborne’s upcoming production of the stage play version of the popular sitcom.

“They said I looked like her. I am a fairly cheerful person. Geraldine is actually really clever. I like her cheerful energy.

“When she walks in she lights up a room. With the MTG cast that just happens because they are so much fun.”

Nickerson had seen little of The Vicar of Dibley on TV so she has been watching episodes on YouTube to get a sense of the characters and their mannerisms.

“We’re all doing a little bit of that, mimicking the TV characters. We’re doing the show pretty true to the TV series but you bring your own flair to your character too. They’re all very strong, very eccentric characters.”

Returning to theatre is a full circle for Nickerson.

“I’ve acted with most of the cast before. I was 10 when I was in The Sound of Music with Dave Newsham. Many years ago Treva Rice and I performed in Stars in Their Eyes. And Gavin Maclean directed me in Little Orphan Annie, and Orpheus In The Underworld when I was 14.”

Director Maclean is happy to have the opportunity to return to the music-theatre world.

“It was a great treat to encounter the clever compilation by George Arthur-Amohau of scenes from numerous episodes of The Vicar of Dibley; a talented cast that matched the character requirements so beautifully, and the inspired dialogue lines which can still make us laugh after many weeks of rehearsal.”

Maclean has condensed the play a little to weave in musical moments and he has adapted it to the Christmas season.

He has even made his own contributions to the music but deprecatingly says this is not the same as composing music.

“Perhaps it’s compositing — thrusting whimsical melodic elements together because they fit the story, or in a possibly amusing way do not.

“I have relied on the skills of Chris Reynolds at the keyboard to knit these together, and add his own improvisations.”

The Vicar of Dibley’s original theme music, The Lord Is My Shepherd by Howard Goodhall, is used more extensively in the MTG show than in the TV series. Under Maclean, the stage production includes a choir.

“Sometimes a church choir, sometimes a handful of raffish carol singers perform a suitably zany mixture of words to a traditional Anglican chant.”

Talented actor and soprano Rosie West is accompanied by a choral backing when she sings the Edward Heyman and Victor Young 1952 favourite When I Fall in Love.

The show’s dialogue though, is entirely from the original series by Richard Curtis (co-creator of Blackadder) and Paul Mayhew-Archer.

When Reverend Geraldine Granger arrives at Dibley to take on the role of vicar, she encounters a bunch of eccentric English villagers. She reacts with warmth and humour to this strange world though, says Maclean.

“It is a demanding role, beautifully interpreted by Quannah.”

  • Musical Theatre Gisborne presents The Vicar of Dibley. Lawson Field Theatre. November 23, 26-30, 7.30pm, November 24, 2pm. Tickets available from Ticketek or iSITE — not from the Lawson Field Theatre as previously advertised.
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