Amdram’s production of 'The Vicar of Dibley'
05 June 2019
Jayne Fields and WHS student, Tori Whibley play Geraldine and Alice — the vicar and the verger — in Amdram’s production of the Vicar of Dibley.
‘I’m enjoying working with Jayne. I couldn’t have found anyone better to work with,” says Tori.
“I’m the same,” says Jane. “Even from when we went to the auditions . . . it’s pretty perfect we ended up together.”
The characters — and, it seems, the actors — share a special relationship, a focus for the rest of the action.
“There’s no lead in this show: every character is pivotal and strong,” says Jayne.
Tori and Jayne are no strangers to the local stage.
“The first time I did something was Grease at the Opera House,” says Jayne.
Her next role was in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; then Blithe Spirit at Repertory.
“But I tend to do things at Amdram, because I love it. My eldest daughter grew up within Amdram and did a lot of singing, so we’ve always been quite connected to the theatre. I’ve just been lucky enough to do more and more.”
She says Whanganui allows people the opportunity to do such things.
Jayne’s father was a huge fan of the TV show, Vicar of Dibley, and the roles of Geraldine and Alice were close to her heart. “In my late teens, French and Saunders was a huge thing for me, so I thought, this is right: give it a go. And I was really lucky.”
For Tori, this is her first real involvement in theatre, although she has performed at school and has been seen on local stages as a sun zipping across the sky and as a comedic stage hand.
“This is my first role with lines, so this is a big step for me and it’s quite nerve-racking.”
Tori says she’s comfortable with the cast, who are all supportive, and in such an environment she feels able to show what she has to give as an actor. “Everyone is so nice, and all they give is constructive criticism.”
She is trying to keep Alice as much like the TV character as possible.
“These characters sit really close to people’s hearts,” says Jayne. “And Chris [McKenzie, director] is really cool. He’s like, ‘You go for it, and if I like it, you won’t hear me’. He’s very good to work with.
“I like that he gets genuinely excited when he’s directing, to the point where he’s laughing and clapping. He gives you energy.”
“And he gives lots of reactions, as well,” says Tori.
As in the TV show, Geraldine tells jokes that Alice doesn’t understand.
“Some of them go over my head anyway,” says Tori, “So I feel like the character sometimes.”
“The comedy just flows with gags and interactions all the time,” says Jayne.
Both agree that while some of the jokes could be considered “inappropriate”, it’s directed smoothly, sensitively and respectfully.
“I can’t wait for Whanganui to see it: it’s going to be so much fun,” says Jayne. “I just wish I could watch it.”
This is Tori’s last year at secondary school and there are stressful months to come, so while a show later in the year might be too hard, she would like to do something over Christmas. She leaves Whanganui next year to pursue tourism studies in New Plymouth.
By Paul Brooks
Whanganui Midweek 5/6/19