Inspired by a true story and based on the hit movie, Made in Dagenham is the uplifting, new British musical comedy about friendship, love and the importance of fighting got what is right.
Essex 1968. Like millions of other working women, each morning Rita O’Grady (Lucy Elson) is just trying to get her husband Eddie (Elliot Coombe) out of bed, get the kids off to school and get to work at the factory on time. But life is about to change forever when it’s announced that the girls in the stitching room of Ford’s Dagenham car plant will have their pay grade dropped to ‘unskilled’. Quickly drawing on a strength she never knew she had, Rita leads her friends in a battle against the might of Ford and the corruption on the Union supposed to protect them. As the girls’ inspiring journey gets bigger than anyone could have imagined, the pressure is too much for some, but can Rita keep up the fight and the happy home she’s worked so hard for?
This performance was presented by Trinity Laban’s final year musical theatre students. However, and this is a big however, if I had paid to see this on a West End stage I would not have come away disappointed. Not sure how much more of a glowing review musical theatre students can obtain than the performance they gave could have been professional paid work. I cannot fault any member of the cast, each and every one of them gave a performance that made the entire show enjoyable, memorable and one they should be immensely proud of.
The part of Rita O’Grady (Lucy Elson for this performance) has to be loveable, strong but vulnerable preferably with a powerful voice. Thankfully, Elson delivers all of this and more. A truly wonderful character with an immensely strong singing performance and for me, she stole the show – it’s always nice when your lead delivers.
Eddie (Elliot Coombe) complemented Elson’s performance well. There was a chemistry between them and they worked well together as a believable couple. Coombe’s performance in the song ‘The Letter’ was superb. Emotional and moving but simple, just what was needed.
So many good performances but to pick a few; Lori McLare’s Barbara Castle was a superb character with a great song, ‘Ideal World’, although a touch too much Vibrato for my liking it was a strong vocal performance. Tom Ramsay as Harold Wilson was funny and the group performance of ‘Always A Problem’ was such entertaining fun. Morgan-Lee Wilcox playing Cass wasn’t a huge part but the energy Wilcox put into it was so high all the way through the show. So much so I found myself repeatedly being drawn back to watching what Wilcox was doing, even when it wasn’t meant to be the focus. At this point, I could honestly just go through and list the entire cast praising performances. They all came together as well as any cast I have ever seen and gave their all on the stage.
It’s great to see the creative team; director (Guy Unsworth), the musical director (Tony Castro) and the choreographer (Nicky Griffiths) work together to produce such a polished performance. The company looked fantastic, the production was superbly staged using the space available with pinpoint precision. They moved the set, performed visually impressive movement on stage and they all sounded wonderful. A standing ovation was given at the performance I attended and it was well deserved. I doff my metaphorical cap to everyone involved in putting this show on.
Review by Lee Cogger
Based on the real events of the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968, Made in Dagenham celebrates the female workers at Ford’s Dagenham plant as they strike to fight for equality of status and pay, leading to the Equal Pay Act 1970. The musical made its world premiere in the West End in 2014, and makes a welcome return to the stage at Stratford Circus as final year Trinity Laban Musical Theatre students take on the roles of Rita O’Grady and her colleagues before embarking on their final careers. Rousing, witty and a visual treat, this is musical theatre at its finest.
Since introducing its brand new Musical Theatre Course just a few years ago, Trinity Laban has very quickly developed a high reputation for its unique Musical Theatre performance training experience, with students going on to perform in West End productions such as Mamma Mia!, Wicked, 42nd Street and Joseph and The Technicolour Dreamcoat.