Made in Dagenham

Date 8th July 2022
Society Theatrecraft
Venue Kings Hall Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Cheryl Marksford
Musical Director Jacqueline Francis
Choreographer Lucy Cockett

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Author: Gordon Harris

This is my first visit to the Kings Hall, it just had to be on a sweltering hot night, but to see Theatre Craft’s "Made in Dagenham" was well worth it.

Made in Dagenham, is a musical based on the 2010 film that tells us the true story of the 1968 sewing machinists' strike at the Ford factory in Dagenham, Essex, which at my age I can remember. This show certainly has a strong feminist cast and message, with Cheryl Marksford as Director, Lucy Cockett Choreographer and Jacqueline Francis as Musical Director, they brought this musical to The Kings Hall, Herne Bay with a cast of strong women. Firstly, the ingenious set design by Trevor Mumford worked very well on this small stage and was swiftly moved by the cast under the direction of Stage Manager Richard Adams - well done to all that made this show roll along nicely.

Costumes (Lin White) were in period, well done Lin, but what happened to your shoes, ladies why did you wear black or beige dance shoes? There were a few who got it right: white boots etc - shoes finish off your character and yes, audiences do watch your feet. Get the shoes right then and you have the character spot on. Sorry it’s my main gripe of this Made in Dagenham, and in many musicals that I review, so not just you.

What a cast of strong Ladies in this Made in Dagenham, and they were directed perfectly strongly by Cheryl Marksford. Mariah Young (Rita) took the lead of this cast and gave a solid performance both in acting and voice, especially leading all in “Stand up”. Jay Mount as her husband (Eddy) is a very accomplished actor and singer gave us a powerful "The Letter." Their son and daughter played by Caesar Ashworth and Evie Jones are fine young actors. Alison Cook (Barbara Castle) and Norman Holness (Harold Wilson) bounced off each other, giving us enough characterisation to make us believe they were who they were portraying. Samuel Wall as Mr Buckton, Mr Tooley, Buddy Cortina, Barry - what a performer! This man has to get my special accolade, well done Samuel. Marcus Hogben as Monty the lover of Connie, was convincing in this role.

Now to the strong cast of Dagenham Girls/Ladies - so many of you! Theresa Rowlstone, as Connie, foul mouthed Libby Stanbridge as Beryl, Flora Alice (Sandra), Jade Thorne (Cass),  Adèle Lambert (Clare): you all gave us good performances. Alfie Merritt as Jeremy Hopkins - a lovely campish portrayal, and Lorraine Medwin as his wife Lisa, were paired well. A good ensemble of players backed up this fine cast. Choreography (Lucy Cockett) was simple but very effective and was in period as I remember it well. This was all backed up by a five-piece band expertly directed by Jacqueline Francis. Cheryl, Lucy and Jacqueline, you chose your cast well, directing them to bring this "Made in Dagenham" to Herne Bay with greatness and a fun evening was had by all. Thank you for inviting me, I enjoyed my evening in Dagenham.