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The Vicar of Bray

An original English comic opera in 2 acts - Written by Sydney Grundy : Composed by Edward Solomon

Globe Theatre, London - July 22, 1882 (69 perfs)
Savoy Theatre, London - 28 January 1892 (143 perfs)
Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York - 7 October, 1882 (7 perfs)


The Rev. William Barlow is Low Church. He became Low Church in order to marry his rich wife who, now dead, has left him with one daughter, Dorothy. Dorothy is in love with her father's curate, Henry Sandford, a decidedly priggish young man with a habit of speaking in rounded and polysyllabic periods. The Vicar has other designs for his daughter in the form of Sandford's old schoolmate, Tommy Merton, son of the proprietor of the living of Bray. To get Sandford out of the way the Vicar, on the advice of his confidential family solicitor, Mr Bedford Rowe, turns High Church. Aghast, Sandford flees to become a missionary in the Cassowary Isles.

But alas! now that the Vicar and all his students have become 'High' they are doomed to celibacy and the Chorus of Lady Sunday School Teachers is distraught at the loss of their matrimonial prospects. So, too, is Mrs Merton who has had her eye on the Vicar. Tommy Merton is prepared as a husband for Dorothy but suddenly Sandford, whom everyone supposed to have been devoured by cannibals, returns-a decidedly better young man with his rounded periods knocked out of him by the King of the Cassowaries. Dorothy returns to her first love, but her father is adamant. Suddenly the solicitor arrives: the Vicar's High Church propensities have displeased his Bishop who has declared him defrocked, his living to be bestowed on Sandford. There is only one way out. The Vicar becomes 'Low' again. He is now eligible to wed the wealthy Mrs Merton while Henry gets his Dorothy and Tommy goes off with the leading danseuse of the local theatre.


Reverend William Barlow, Vicar of Bray
Reverend Henry Sandford, his curate
Thomas Merton, Esq., of Bray Manor
Mr. Bedford Rowe, a Confidential Family Solicitor
Dorothy, the Vicar's Daughter
Mrs. Merton, widow of the late Thomas Merton, of Jamaica
Nelly Bly, of the Theatre Royal, Bray

Students of Divinity, Ladies of the Ballet, Teachers, Huntsmen, Jockeys.

Scenes and settings

Act 1: Low Church. The Village Green.
Act 2: High Church. The Vicarage Grounds.

Musical Numbers:

Act I

  1. Chorus of Children - "Hooray, hooray! "
  2. Chorus of Lady Teachers - "To a slow and stately measure"
  3. Song: - Winifred - "O, Why is my love?"
  4. Chorus of Teachers - "All the bold …"
  5. Chorus of Students; and Solo Sandford - "On, Students, on!"
  6. Song: Sandford - "As good as he ought to be"
  7. Ensemble and Entrance of Vicar - "Hail to the Vicar"
  8. Song: Vicar - "The Rev. Mr. Barlow"
  9. Chorus - "Bow, Students, bow!"
  10. Song, Mr. Bedford Rose - "I'm as sharp as a ferret"
  11. Exit - "Good morning, dear Vicar"
  12. Entrance of Mrs Merton - "Has anyone seen the Pytchley Pack?"
  13. Trio: Rowe, Vicar and Mrs Merton - "Now if you'll excuse me"
  14. Duet: Vicar and Mrs. Merton - "The shy widow"
  15. Duet: Sandford and Winifred - "Tell me true, love …"
  16. Chorus of Huntsmen; and Solo: Tommy Martin - "Jolly, jolly Huntsmen!"
  17. Chorus, Corps de Ballet: - "Please to make way for us"
  18. Dance: Nelly Bly
  19. Ensemble: "O, shocking sight"
  20. Finale: "Back, Students, back!"

Act II

  1. Chorus of Teachers: - "Listen to the merry bells"
  2. Concerted number: Students, Teachers & Vicar - "What is life?"
  3. Song and Chorus: Vicar and Students - "The Jackson case"
  4. Duet: Vicar and Mrs Merton - "The Wily Widower"
  5. Solo: Mrs Merton - "You ask me why"
  6. Duet: Winifred and Sandford - "Come back to me"
  7. Duet: Winifred and Sandford - "Propriety, prisms and prunes"
  8. Trio: Sandford, Merton & Winifred - "Just a word"
  9. Entrance: Nellie Bly
  10. Entrance: Corps de Ballet
  11. Dance: Pas de Cinq
  12. Exit of Vicar & Corps de Ballet
  13. Concerted number: Tommy, Merton, Bedford, Rowe and Huntsmen - "Confidential family solicitor"
  14. Chorus: Corps de Ballet - "We no longer gyrate"
  15. Concerted piece: - "See, see, we saw!"
  16. Chorus of Children: "Lucky little boys and girls"
  17. Wedding chorus: - "Lady Fair"
  18. Finale: "O William, seet William"