From the moment we heard the pre-show announcement made specially by the cast, we knew that we were in for a treat with Made in Dagenham! Based on the real-life events of the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968, this lesser-known show was a breath of fresh air to The Core stage.
“It’s an age-old story”. A quote from one of the songs from this lively up-beat score is absolutely correct! Equality, fair pay for all and standing together for what you believe in are as relevant today as they were back in 1968 and the passion that Solihull On Stage brought to the story was breath-taking. Every member of the cast worked hard as a team and told their part of the tale with conviction and expression.
Co-Directors Dani Godwin and Sarah Golby (who was also the choreographer) had clearly drilled the cast well in some imaginative staging with an extremely large cast and should be thoroughly proud of what they have achieved. The show was slick, fast-paced and energetic! The set was basic but functional and allowed for quick scene changes. Maybe there were one or two moments when the scenes could have faded into each other without the need for blackouts and stage crew but that is more a matter of personal preference.
Sue Lyons (Rita O’Grady) shone as the leader of the women strikers and showed both passion for her cause and yet a vulnerability when realising what an impact the strike was having on the lives around her. She was excellent paired with Sam Turner (Eddie O’Grady) whose performance of The Letter, both vocally and emotionally, brought the house down. It is virtually impossible to single out the excellent supporting roles of the various workers, factory girls, civil servants and management but Nichola Willetts (Beryl) added some hilarious moments, demonstrating excellent comic timing and Zoe Taylor (Clare) performed Wassname with a real sense of character. Simon Chinery (Harold Wilson) and Suzanne Brittain (Barbara Castle) were a fantastic pairing with faultless accents, comic timing and excellent characterisations whilst Adam Scott (Mr Tooley) made a few of the audience gasp with his portrayal of the rather ruthless and un-PC American boss!
Mel O’Donnell (Musical Director) led a tight band and had clearly worked hard with such a large chorus to create some excellent harmonies. Unfortunately, the balance at times between the band and singers was slightly out and some technical issues with the microphones on opening night meant that we lost some important lines and humorous punch lines. However, this did not stop the audience from being thoroughly entertained with a fresh, vibrant production of such an uplifting story.
Solihull On Stage have a real success on their hands and Made in Dagenham runs until Saturday 28th April at The Core Theatre, Solihull.
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