The Wickerman set to go musical in new stage show

A MUSICAL version of Galloway-filmed The Wicker Man is to brought to the stage as part of The National theatre of Scotland’s new season.

Actor Greg Hemphill, best known for his roles in Chewin’ the Fat and Still Game, co-wrote ‘Appointment with the Wicker Man” along with comedy actor Donald McLeary and will star as Lord Summersile himself, played in the 1973 film by Christopher Lee.

Described as a “love letter” to the film, which also starred Edward Woodward, the production will go on tour across Scotland early next year.

The piece promises to offer an “affectionate” twist on the original film’s plot, which saw Woodward’s police sergeant called to the fictional Scottish island of Summerisle in search of a missing girl, only to become embroiled in the community’s curious rituals.

While also based on a distant and remote island, the new version will focus on the plight of a fictional Highlands dramatic troupe, the Loch Parry Theatre Players, whose lead actor goes missing in “mysterious circumstances” during rehearsals for a production of The Wicker Man, forcing them to call on the services of a “television cop from the mainland”.

Hemphill, who described the film as a “unique and timeless cult masterpiece,” said it was a “dream come true” to help create a companion piece to a film that “opened the window to another world” when he saw it for the first time aged 13.

He said: “Donald and I have been fans of The Wicker Man for years. It’s a classic and people in Scotland have a great connection to it.

“We want to celebrate the film, not slavishly imitate it. We’re trying to make a horror comedy in the style and spirit of The Wicker Man.”

The production, directed by Vicky Featherstone, artistic director and chief executive of the NTS, is based on the film and Anthony Shaffer’s original screenplay, along with the novel, Ritual, by David Pinner.

Hemphill, a horror aficionado, stressed that he and Mr McLeary were determined not to sully the film’s legacy.

“I think that someone could be burned alive if it doesn’t go well, but as the Nicolas Cage adaptation shows, there has to be an understanding an appreciation of the film,” he said.

The show will run at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen from 21 February to 25 February before going on to Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, Eden Court in Inverness, and the Alhambra in Dunfermline.

Ms Featherstone said: “I wanted to find something for the programme which involved comedy and was a rousing experience for the audience. I’d wanted Greg to write something for ages, and when I approached him we realised this was the right project, it’s very exciting.”