Based on the 2010 film and centring around the Ford factory strike of 1968, ‘Made in Dagenham the Musical’, under the direction of John Garfield-Roberts, is a heart-warming show based on the true story of six women who in June 1968 fought to get their pay reviewed and regraded to the equivalent of their male colleagues doing a similar skill level of work.
Although ultimately successful – it took almost twenty years - there are many who would say that equality has still not been achieved as we reach the fiftieth anniversary of their strike.
Rita O’Grady (Holly Murphy) is thrust unexpectedly into taking a lead role in the dispute and we see the effect on her relationship with husband Eddie (Paul Robinson) and children Graham (Matthew Hummerston) and Sharon (Maisie Riley) as with her colleagues Connie (Julie Gould), Sandra (Sarah Johnson), Beryl (Pip Bradshaw), Clare (Katie Molyneux) and Cass (Dawn Wright), they look to right the social injustice of their day. In doing so they come up against union officials Monty (Jon Somerville) and Sid (Bryan Dargie), the management in Hopkins (Brian Tubb), whose wife Lisa (Helena Whiteley) interestingly offers a sympathetic ear and an insight into the devious tactics of the US team led by Tooley (Dru Fitzgerald) and Adams (Claire Jones), and the government of PM Harold Wilson (Alan Harbottle) and Barbara Castle (Claire Heaton). Our chorus of Ford ladies (Bláthine Maguire; Lucy Bradshaw; Grace Hodgson; Julie Molyneux) are evenly matched by a chorus of Ford men (Chris McNamara; PJ Green) and as the action unfolds sterling support is provided through Georgina Earle; Marion Hitchen; and Maureen Kinsey.
All the cast performed well with powerful opening full-cast pieces followed by some exquisite solos from Murphy, K Molyneux, Gould and Heaton. Fitzgerald gave a comic tour de force replete with solo that Trump would be proud of; Robinson’s solo in the second half was particularly moving. Bradshaw was clearly having too much fun throughout and Dargie excelled in his many roles. The ensemble delivery of ‘Everybody Out’ to take us into the interval confirmed why no one in the audience had any intention of going anywhere and ‘Stand Up’ was a fitting end to the show with a well-deserved ovation from an almost full house.
Musical Director Wayne Oakes was superb as always and led his orchestra (Adam Dutch; George Strickland; Sarah Queen; Jordan Alexander; Charlotte Atack; Alex Huxley; Mike Ciaputa; Kevin Bates; Theo Fowler; Trevor Bartlett) in perfect accompaniment to the on-stage action despite being tucked away in a rear room.
Lucy Bradshaw’s choreography was top notch as we have come to expect and responded brilliantly to the challenges of a score reflecting variations in mood and emotion. Equally well choreographed was the stage management led by Tony Dagnall-Moss with the assistance of Les Dagnall and Karen Woods which facilitated seamless scene changes to keep the action unfolding.
Producer and Chair of RMTC Ruth Gibb has a lot to be proud of although the challenge now is managing the overflowing array of talent on offer tonight from new members and seasoned performers: Hodgson, Jones, J Molyneux, and Maguire, in particular, could easily have been in lead roles tonight, and I would have enjoyed solos from the ever-delightful Johnson.
Made in Dagenham performs at Rainhill Village Hall 14th – 16th June at 7.30pm with a matinee performance on 16th June at 2.00pm. Tickets are priced at £10/£8 with easy online booking at www.rainhillmusicaltheatrecompany.co.uk
Reviewer: Mark Davoren
Reviewed: 14th June 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★★★