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Made in Dagenham

Date

21st March 2019

Society

Hessle Theatre Company

Venue

Hull New Theatre

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Martin Beaumont

Musical Director

Christ Maynard

Choreographer

Martin Beaumont

Report

Author: Tony Harris

I enjoyed this show which was well executed by a talented society.  Yes, in my view the first half takes rather too long to set things up but, when the real action started at the beginning of Act Two, things didn’t stop.  That’s not to say that the production lacked pace early on – the script is what we work with – but, for me it could have got to the nitty gritty of Ford’s staff problems earlier.

The lead character of Rita O’Grady was extremely well portrayed by Emma Burgess.  She has a super presence on stage and she was hardly off it throughout the show.  She can sing well and act strongly.  The applause she received at the end was fully justified.  Rita is a loyal and hardworking housewife and mother who combines this with production line work and her growth into a real force to be reckoned with as the show moved on was marked.

There are loads of parts for the girls in this show and all of them performed with aplomb, Katherine Fitzgerald leading the way as Beryl Wood in a superb performance with exquisite timing.  Other stand out performances from the production line came from Sarah Brodie (Sandra), Georgia Wormald (Clare), Michelle Metcalfe (Cass) and Linda Burgess as shop steward Connie.  I should also mention Hannah Wilson as the company MD’s wife, Lisa Hopkins, who befriends Rita.

Sarah North was very good as Barbara Castle and it’s not easy playing real characters, although we all try to do that!  Her song, ‘Ideal World’ isn’t easy and she performed it extremely well.

Now to the men!  Joe Porte portrayed Rita’s husband, Eddie, and very nicely, but if I’m honest at times I didn’t feel the love between them.  Support yes but I thought the affection was lacking a bit.

Once again there are a lot of parts available and I thought that, as usual, the strength of the society’s team of performers was well to the fore.  Neal Edlin played Harold Wilson, complete with gannex mac, and, as with Sarah’s portrayal, was believable.  Kevin Hickson showed us another very good character in Monty the Union Rep and Richard Foot was right as Jeremy Hopkins, Ford’s MD.

One of the strongest numbers in the show is ‘This is America’ which opens the second half and here we had Chris Holmes as a super, well controlled, Ford USA Executive, Mr Tooley.  A great number complete with cheer leaders and well up to Director/Choreographer Martin Beaumont’s exacting standards.

As with the girls there was excellent support from all the other men (I could probably name them all) but, almost stealing the show, was Russell Fallon as Cortina Man in the car’s launch scene.  Wonderful!

There was some good singing all through the performance but the sound balance was not good which was disappointing.  There are some super numbers in the show and the cast did well with their accents but this did not help them get their words across at times.  The set, lighting and costumes were fine and signature choreography enjoyable and suitably show-bizzy for me!

Times were difficult back in the day in Dagenham and this production got that message across.