NIGEL Dixon devoted his professional life to the legal profession but never lost his youthful passion for music and theatre.
In many ways he has managed to have the best of both worlds.
Though now retired, Nigel combined his successful career as a solicitor with a much- applauded leading role in the region’s amateur theatre world.
Over the last 25 years Nigel, who lives in Hightown, Liversedge, reckons he has appeared in more than 50 musicals productions for seven local amateur companies.
He has appeared in the spotlight on some of the biggest stages in the region including Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre and the Grand Theatre, the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the City Varieties, all in Leeds.
But next week Nigel will add a new theatre and a new company to his CV. And he can’t wait.
Nigel makes his Lawrence Batley Theatre debut on Monday with Huddersfield Light Opera Company, playing the role of Georges in La Cage Aux Folles.
It may be the first time that Nigel has appeared with the Light Opera, but La Cage, with its Jerry Herman music, is a show that he knows well.
He first saw the show in the 1980s in a professional production at the London Palladium.
He says: “I was won over by its wonderful themes of family loyalty, love and tolerance, by its spectacular costumes and dance routines and by its high comedy and terrific music orchestrations.
“I had the pleasure to first play the role of Albin (played for the Light Opera next week by Neil Broadbent) in 1994 at the Alhambra in Bradford.
“Later I also had the opportunity to play the other lead role of Georges in Batley in 2002. I’m happy to be reprising this role for the Light Opera as this will be my first time treading the boards of the LBT.”
Nigel’s arrival in Huddersfield owes much to another newcomer to the Light for this show, a new musical director, Anne Levitt.
Anne is an accomplished musician and teacher and among her many commitments she is the accompanist for New Mill Male Voice Choir.
Nigel says: “I’ve worked with Anne quite a few times before. She used to be musical director for Leeds Amateurs and Carlinghow Theatre Company.” Batley-based Carlinghow is Nigel’s home society and he is its president.
“Anne told me that she had been invited to do La Cage and knew that I had played in it before. She thought that it would be a good idea for me to audition.”
Nigel’s passion for music goes back to his school days, when he studied music playing piano, clarinet and guitar until he was 14.
He says: “I dropped music for more academic subjects, sadly giving music up for legal studies.” It was hardly a surprising choice given his family background. His father and his two sisters were all solicitors.
“However, I never lost my love of music and theatre. In my twenties I went to see a work colleague performing in a local amateur theatre company and resolved to get involved with music again.
“I joined that company the following year and landed my first role as Lieut Cable in South Pacific. I was told that I had a good natural tenor voice.”
“I took vocal lessons and my teacher Sheila Gambrill gave me a lot more confidence in the technique of singing. I started landing quite a lot of roles. I’ve done quite a lot with Leeds Amateurs working both at the Grand and the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
“That was particularly interesting. The Grand is an old Victorian theatre and the Playhouse is a modern theatre. Both are lovely places to play in.
“When I was with Bradford Players I appeared in La Cage playing the role of Albin and I think that is why I have such affection for the show. It’s a very well- written show and it is very touching. People perhaps expect it to be a frivolous, camp show but this is actually very different. ”
Nigel appears to have fitted well into the Light Opera family. He admires their talent and their hard work and has nothing but praise for show choreographer and director Pam Strickland.
Now the hours are ticking by the nerves are steadying. Opening night is just days away. What’s in store is one of those bittersweet shows that will fill your night with glamour, music and humour but which also has the power to move you. Enjoy.
The box office is on 014834 430528.