Made In Dagenham
Made In Dagenham tells the true story of the few upholstery machinists at Ford’s Dagenham plant who came out on strike in the late 60s for equal pay. In doing so they took on the full might of Ford USA, the British Government, the TUC, public opinion and initially their own colleagues. And won!
The plot revolves around an ordinary housewife and machinist Rita O’Grady who inadvertently becomes the spokeswoman for the ladies and in doing so risks the stability of her home and marriage to fight for something she passionately believes in.
The piece also highlights and reminds us, sometimes uncomfortably, about other issues of the day as well as equality of the sexes, namely; corporal punishment in schools, sexism in the workplace, the expectations of working class children especially girls, the expectations of degree educated women in society, women in the trade unions, women in government, non pc comedians, and American business influence in UK and European affairs. And all this is done with a pithy sense of humour throughout.
It makes you laugh, and it makes you think.
Cast & Creative
|Rita O'Grady||Lacey Creed|
|Eddie O'Grady||Martin Wilcox|
|Harold Wilson||Steve Taylor|
|Barbara Castle||Clair Jardella|
|Lisa Hopkins||Helen Lowe|
|Cortina Man||Mathew Madeley|
|Club Singer||Emma Knight|
|Ensemble||John Paul Sutherland|
|Graham O'Grady||Noam Sala Budgen|
|Sharon O'Grady||Emily Pegler|
|Musical Director||Artemis Read|
|Stage Manager||Richard Coveney|
|Set Design||Lizzie Lattimore|
|Set Design||Jenna Powell|
Reviews & Awards
- Lacey Creed – winner of the Molly Harle Trophy for Best Female Character in a Musical for Rita O’Grady in Made in Dagenham (NODA London Awards 2018)
Made in Dagenham review from NODA London
I have been aware of BROS, and the high standard of shows usually produced, for a number of years now. As such, what a pleasure it was to have attended the Saturday matinee performance and seen what all the fuss was about. An excellent reputation can sometimes lead to a slight feeling of disappointment but this most certainly wasn’t the case here!
Many thanks to Mathew Madeley (NODA Liaison) for his kind invitation and making the necessary arrangements for my visit. Thanks also to Louise Ellard-Turnbull (Chair) for her warm welcome on arrival and to Wesley Henderson Roe (Director) for the chat afterwards in the foyer.
The subject matter seems an unlikely theme for a musical and I anticipated attending ‘Made in Dagenham’ with great interest. In 1968, the Ford auto factory in Dagenham was one of the largest private employers in England. Whilst there were thousands of male employees there were only a few hundred underpaid women machinists who primarily assembled the car seat upholstery. This is the story of Rita O’Grady who reluctantly becomes involved in union negotiations, on behalf of the other women, and eventually leads them out on strike.
Congratulations must go to Wesley Henderson Roe who, as Director, spotted the huge potential in this show. BROS are extremely fortunate to have such a strong reputation and thus be able to attract such exceptional talent. Wesley assembled a terrific cast who gave this story the strength and vigour it truly deserved. The whole show positively buzzed with energy and it must have been immensely satisfying to see all your hard work come together in such a memorable performance. Casting was handled superbly and everyone involved in the show a huge credit to BROS. This is definitely something to look back on with a great deal of pride.
Artemis Reed, Musical Director, and his band were unfortunately situated out of sight. This was completely understandable, however, as there simply wasn’t sufficient space in the auditorium. Nevertheless, it had no negative impact on the quality, or clarity, of the music which was perfectly in time with all singing. Artemis had clearly ensured that the principal and ensemble vocals, were both well-rehearsed and that diction was always first rate. I was impressed by the blending of the band with the vocals and pleased the music never overshadowed principal or ensemble singing.
Choreography was arranged by Susi Pink and was simply fabulous with exacting precision and superb attention to detail. All cast members were highly engaged and looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Congratulations also to Emma Hosier and Darren Moss who, as Dance Captains, had clearly worked very hard in listening to Susi’s directions and ensured these were followed precisely onstage.
Lacey Creed was nothing short of superb in the lead role of Rita O’Grady – the unassuming housewife and mother who reluctantly, and at no small cost to herself and her family, became the leader of the ladies in their struggle for equality. Lacey used her wealth of stage experience to bring Rita’s character to life. Lacey has exceptionally strong acting skills and a delightful voice to match, ‘Busy Woman’ and ‘Everybody Out’ were fabulous but for me, ‘Stand Up’ was nothing short of stunning.
Martin Wilcox delivered a fantastic piece of emotional acting and nailed the part of Eddie O’Grady, a working class, unsophisticated macho man who struggled in a male dominated world whilst being proud of the new-found role of his wife. ‘I’m Sorry I Love You’ was sung with real feeling but it was Martin’s rendition of ‘The Letter’ that was nothing short of heart wrenching and charged with emotion. His entry during the finale number, and reconciliation with Rita, ensured the show ended perfectly.
Lizzie Brignall gave a most convincing and emotional performance as Connie, the union representative who unexpectedly succumbed to cancer. Connie was a staunch union supporter and Rita’s mentor in the struggle for women’s rights.
Carl Smith gave a lovely forlorn performance as Monty, the male supervisor who was secretly in love with Connie and devastated when she died. Carl gave a thoughtful performance revealing feelings clearly in both camps of the fight. Finally, stuck in the corrupt, male dominated union world he gradually realised that world is slowly but surely changing around him.
Strong performances were given by Rita’s fellow machinists Sandra (Bex Wood), Beryl (Kerry MaGee), Cass (Sarah Perkins) and Clare (Aggie Holland) – their banter throughout had the audience laughing in recognition. Kerry MaGee must have loved the freedom granted in her role as the unashamedly coarse, but supportive, Beryl. ‘Wossname’ was inarticulate Clare’s opportunity to put her case forward for helping with union matters and she failed miserably! Delivered with perfect confusion, and totally lacking self-belief, this was hilarious.
Despite the serious subject matter Made in Dagenham is a funny show with lots of humour. Some memorable moments were provided by the delightful double act of ‘bumbling’ Harold Wilson and ‘down to earth’ Barbara Castle.
Steve Taylor gave a brilliant performance as Harold Wilson – I only wished we’d have seen more of him throughout the show. Wonderful acting and great humour, I simply loved the scene in Barbara Castle’s office when he exited stage left into a stationery cupboard and then re-emerged somewhat confused and embarrassed. Steve demonstrated his singing ability in the musical number ‘Always a Problem’ with three of his Ministers – very funny and great choreography. I don’t suppose I’ll ever think of Harold Wilson in the same light again!
Clair Jardella gave a very strong performance as the formidable Barbara Castle, a woman who’d been given the near-impossible task of ending UK strikes and improving productivity. Strong acting and some very funny moments, coupled with concern for the striking women’s fate. Clair’s excellent singing voice was well demonstrated in ‘Ideal World’.
Andy Yates was well cast as Jeremy Hopkins – boss of Ford UK. Andy did well in transforming his character from arrogant to ‘out of his depth’ as he quickly lost control of the whole situation when Ford’s Worldwide CEO arrived.
Helen Lowe played Jeremy’s wife, the ‘posh’ Lisa, with conviction and style. Helen was every bit the upper class wife and befriended the girls with both sympathy for their plight and in dress and manner.
Berni Messenger (Sid) and John Paul Sutherland (Bill) played the two sexist shop stewards and formed a comedy duo. Their sexist comments towards the women, and general lustful thoughts, fitted perfectly with a male-dominated factory environment.
Edz Barrett was every inch the obnoxious American CEO, Tooley, who’d been brought in to stamp out the strike and return production to normal. Arrogant, aggressive, xenophobic and homophobic Tooley was utterly convinced that the American way was far superior to anything else. ‘This is America’ was Edz opportunity to reveal a strong singing voice and he certainly delivered. Overall, Edz played the role of this dreadful man superbly and was the despicable villain the audience quickly grew to despise!
Noam Sala Budgen (Graham O’Grady) and Emily Pegler (Sharon O’Grady) are two young performers who’ll surely be around the stage for many years to come. Solid cameo performances and an opportunity to work with an excellent group. I hope you enjoyed the being involved with BROS as part of this wonderful show.
‘Made in Dagenham’ was full of boisterous numbers and energetic routines that just oozed from this highly talented society, along with good backing from all principals and chorus members. I would very much have liked to have been able to single out more individual performances but with a large cast, and so much non-stop action, it was difficult to take everything on board as I was enjoying the show so much. However, I was aware that everyone was fully engaged throughout the production and contributed to the overall success and appeal of the show.
The programme was of a very high standard and definitely worthy of a special mention and nomination for a NODA award. Unfortunately I’m not certain who to acknowledge here, as I cannot see a credit listed, but there were some great photographs of rehearsals, plenty more from the actual era, interesting cast biographies and nice ‘touches’ throughout. I especially enjoyed reading the ‘Highlights Calendar from 1968’ and ‘Historical Background’. It was also very interesting to read ‘The Director’s Take’ and pleased to see the NODA reference.
The set design was by Wesley Henderson Roe and was relatively simply but well thought out. With such a large cast, there was always going to be a danger of crowding but the inclusion of a balcony office worked very well in creating additional space. The stairs provided a strong focal point and the use of a sliding back doors ensured scene changes were swift and without delay.
Props were managed by Ann Pringle – not an easy task given the large cast and numerous items required. It must have been a challenge to keep track of everything. All props appeared to be of good quality and appropriate for the time period and setting.
Stage Manager, Richard Coveney ensured everyone, and everything was in the right place at the right time. His stage crew had clearly been well instructed which resulted in smooth set changes and minimal delays.
Wardrobe Mistress, Zoe Harvey-Lee, made sure all cast members were appropriately dressed for the time period and setting. All costumes were of a high standard and I was particularly impressed with the wonderful array of women’s dresses in the Social Club scene. Heather Stockwell and Louise Ellard-Turnbull were responsible for the excellent cast Makeup and period Hairstyles.
The Lighting Crew (Chris Pike, Gary Stevenson, Tony Pike, Colin Swinton and Mike Bradbury) ensured a consistently high level throughout the show and that all cast members were clearly lit when required.
Sound was handled by Philippa Stone who ensured everything worked well. There were no instances of ‘lost words’ with all speaking and singing lyrics being clearly audible.
That only leaves me to sum up my show report by saying well done and huge congratulations to everyone involved. This was a superb afternoon’s entertainment and the standing ovation received was richly deserved – I’m certain it wasn’t the only one experienced during the week.
From the comments I overheard in the foyer afterwards, there can be no doubt the entire audience left feeling incredibly impressed with the quality of this show, all cast members and BROS in particular.
I look forward to a long relationship with BROS and in attending ‘A Class Act’ in June 2018 – which I’m certain will be of an equally high standard.
NODA London District 3