Prepare to kneel at the alter of Berwick Operatic Society once again as they bring a national treasure to The
‘The Vicar of Dibley is without question when of the best loved British comedies of all time so pressure then on the Opera cast and their director Louise wood, who is taking sole charge of a production for the first time.
But as a woman who’s not afraid of a challenge on stage or off, recent credits including Miss Hanngigan in ‘Annie’ and co-diretor of ‘Allo, Allo’, Louise told ‘WOW’ she was having great fun steering the society’s ship through a fantastic sctipt.
“After the success of ‘Allo Allo’ I was really keen to continue along the classic sitcom theme.
“There were a number of contenders but ultimately the committee went with Dibley and it was a fantastic choice.
“I’m both excited and petrified to be responsible for us doing it justice but I’ve got a great and supportive cast around me.”
The Vicar of Dibley, played by Dawn French and her parishioners were taken to TV viewers’ hearts and Louise said while she wasn’t keen for her actors to attempt exact replicas she felt it was important they stayed true to the programme.
“We were never going to get carbon copies but just like ‘Allo Allo’, people coming along to the show will want to see something familiar and I think we’ve definitely achieved that.
“You just have to close your eyes and listen to someone of the cast to know who they are.”
As well as ‘Vicar of Dibley’ being the first time Louise has directed a Berwick Operatic production on her own, it is also the first time it’s leading lady has performed with the society.
Fastening herself into the dog collar of vicar Geraldine Grainger is Wendy Ward.
And as a huge fan of the show she couldn’t be happier to have landed the starring role.
“I haven’t done anything on this scale in 20 years but when I saw the advert for auditions I knew I had to get involved.
“I have a lot in common with the part; We both have our faith and most importantly both love chocolate!
“Dawn French is so good in the role that it’s hard not to think of her when I’m playing the part and I think it’s important our version does reflect the programme.
“Dawn French’s Geraldine is very fixed in people’s minds so I’m trying to build on that and add my own elements to the role.”
One of the Dibley congregation is of course loveable village idiot Hugo Horton and his Berwick Operatic alias, Matthew Jenkins said he was a character you could take in many directions.
“Yes he’s a bit stupid but he’s not a complete fool,” he joked.
“He’s really good fun to play and you can play around with his characteristics quite a lot.
“I also get to wear some very interesting jumpers and some eye catching ties.”
Both Matthew and Wendy were in agreement that the stage adaptation of ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ was like a greatest hits of the BBC series.
Audiences can look forward to seeing how the parish of Dibley deals with Lent, Easter and most importantly the wedding of the year between Hugo and Alice.
“Lisa (Summers) is playing Alice and her dress alone is worth the ticket price,” Wendy added. “It really is a sight to behold!”
○’The Vicar of Dibley’ is on at The Maltings from November 7-9.