Made in Dagenham

Date 17th May 2018
Society Rhyl & District Musical Theatre Company
Venue THE LITTLE THEATRE, RHYL
Director Tracy Spencer
Musical Director Craig Price
Choreographer Gail Astle

Report

Author: Lyn Emmerson

This was a good choice for the Company to bring to the stage. Based on the 2010 film, Made in Dagenham and the true events of 1968, the Ford Dagenham sewing machinists went on strike for equal pay. The Company chose a very experienced cast to bring this musical to our attention and wow, did it pay off. The very moment the curtain rose, we were made to sit up and take note of what these women were about. The opening numbers put us in the mood for a battle for women’s rights and this followed all through the show, this group of women were not going to be put off by anyone. ‘Made in Dagenham’ had a militant feel to it and the company put their message across with ‘Pay Day’ and ‘Everybody Out’. Costumes were very 60’s and I loved the beehive hairstyles, and footwear were all correct. Grand job carried out by all back stage crew and set design was adequate though minimalistic, just one or two mishaps in places, but players helped move props at appropriate times.

It was evident that the Director and cast had thoroughly researched the piece, and there were some excellent characterisations from the team factory sewing machinists. Nikki Renshaw-Jones as Beryl, took no messing from Management and this definitely came over in her portrayal whilst Jess Griffiths, Chloe Warde, Kat Hewish, as machinists Clare, Sandra and Cass all bonded into a solid team each giving a believable illustration of their character. Strong performance from Jane Crinigan as the Connie the Union Convenor, who also gave us some moments of sadness later in the show, and as always, a solid, reliable contribution from Ron Jones as Monty.

The role of Rita O’Grady was in the capable hands of Rhiannon Gordon whose experience in stagecraft was tested in this demanding role. Being voted to be spokesperson on behalf of the machinists, Rhiannon took this role by the scruff of the neck and took us through every situation trying to juggle work and family life. She was spot on in all tasks in this production, and led the company vocally in many chorus numbers. A thought provoking performance from James Pagett as husband Eddie O’Grady trying to sort the family out whilst wife Rita was fully involved and passionate about her allegiance to her work mates. I particularly liked his poignant rendering of ‘Can’t Do It Anymore’ in Act 2, and I must not forget the important contribution from Jenson Jamieson and Isla Jones as the O’Grady children, Graham and Sharon, well done. Delwen Potter revelled in her role as Barbara Castle, bringing much comedy to the scene. Her number ‘Ideal World’ was well received by the audience, whilst Ian Gunning immersed himself in the role of Harold Wilson. Lovely performance from Hayley Sprake as Lisa Hopkins, affectionately called ‘Snuggles’, who had sympathy with the machinists and was wife of Management Jeremy Hopkins, Pete Williams. A creditable performance from George Kelly as Mr Tooley, the brash American leading the cheer leaders in a star spangled routine ‘This is America’. Loved Craig Lee Jones as glitzy ‘Cortina Man’with impressive harmony from the Cortina Singers, Melissa Bellis, Dawn Jones and Sian Ellis-Williams. There were many other minor roles, all of which were well performed.

Chorus numbers were all superbly choreographed, grabbing our attention from start to the finish including ‘Viva Eastbourne’, and ‘Stand Up.’ The Company really brought this situation to our attention in a delightful and meaningful production of this notable strike for women’s rights in Fords of Dagenham in 1968. Thank you all once again and congratulations to all involved.

Looking forward to ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ in late October.