Made in Dagenham
Paul Johnson | 28 Jul 2018 15:33pm
Made in Dagenham the Musical is a historical acknowledgement of issues which ultimately led to the Equal Pay Act of 1970 coming into force some five years later. The show has become very popular with amateur groups and is one I have seen and performed in previously.
On the night I attended the audience was buzzing before the show even started and they were not disappointed as this was an energetic, feel-good production. As the curtan fell, director, Julian Phatarfod’s time and energy with the Quay Players was justly rewarded with a standing ovation. Despite a well-presented programme I would have liked to have seen cast biographies included.
The set is fairly straightforward and, unusually for this show, all on one level. That said, scene changes are seamless and quickly executed which proves the set works. With such a large stage it feels that it may benefit to bring more action centre stage rather than insisting on using the entire space as is the case in a number of scenes such as following Pay Day, when Chubby’s comedy misses out.
Lighting is appropriate although the audience are inexplicably blinded at the beginning of the first number. The mics for some of the principals could be raised at times and a little dialogue is occasional unbalanced in musical numbers when the amazing eleven-piece band overpowers the soloists. A mention to Rachel Murphy for not only MDing the band but also showcasing the vocals; some harmonies are tricky but these are handled really well with the ladies chorus particularly powerful.
Well done to Jenny Galloway in her debut as choreographer. Ensemble numbers which appear simple are all the more effective with everyone able to get the movement and timing spot on. I particularly enjoyed the numbers Busy Woman, Everybody Out and Stand Up.
Costumes look effective although some attention to detail is missing and I’m not sure they are entirely authentic throughout. Further use of personal props e.g. handbags, headscarves, hats etc. could add to the overall effect in songs such as Viva Eastbourne.
Emily Bates (Rita O’Grady) gives a very strong performance and really grows into her part. The audience are behind her all the way. Her vocals are fabulous in Everybody Out – which provides a fantastic end to Act 1 with great energy from everyone. Nearly Had It All is also a really well-perfomed number and I like the effect of the protestors being behind the gauze curtain. Rita’s TUC speech is wonderfully handled during which you can hear a pin drop. With everyone’s eyes on Rita, I’m not sure many audience members notice the use of some of the ensemble in the audience. Emily shows the ability to pace emotional restraint which shows maturity and experience.
Rita and Eddie’s chemistry is equally strong in tenderness and battle with Luke Lupton (Eddie) excellent as Rita’s husband. His rendition of The Letter is outstanding, really heart-wrenching and the audience can definitely feel the emotion. That said, I didn’t really feel that the O’Grady kids (Graham and Sharon) add much to the performance which is a little disappointing not to see more made of the characters played by Billy Swift and Mary Wylie.
Kate Hannam (Connie Riley) gives a convincing and emotional performance, particularly in Same Old Story. She is not obviously vulnerable in the hospital scene but I’m comparing to what I have seen previously. The audience love Julianne Palmer who gives her all as foul-mouthed Beryl. Miranda Evans plays ditsy Clare beautifully with Wossname sung to perfection, both vocally and in keeping with character. Aimee Reynolds (Sandra Beaumont) has some strong vocals from the outset and Lauren Breese (Cass) plays an engaging wanabee airline pilot! Barry Pavey (Monty) does a good job looking suitably uncomfortable on the shop floor amongst the girls in This is What We Want.
A fair amount of the show’s humour is provided by the delightful and bumbling Harold Wilson (Scott Butler) who really plays to the audience. His Aides (Alex Creed, Sophie Elizabeth, Gabriella Mccoy) give enthusiastic performances with some energetic dance moves although a few harmonies sound a little suspect to me at times. Caroline Smith (Barbara Castle) does a great job with some strong characterisation. Her performance of Ideal World – a difficult number to sing – was first class. Charlie Houseago (Mr Hopkins) gives an unusually comedic performance in this role and works well with onstage wife (Lucinda Kingham) who gives a strong account.
I was a bit disappointed by the opening to Act 2 on the night a saw the show. Generally, This is America might be expected to be an elaborate OTT number but, whilst Keith Walters (Mr Tooley) undoubtedly has a fine singing voice, for me the character lacks any real brashness, arrogance or aggression and the whole number is a little underplayed.
Matt Brighton (Cortina Man) gives a well-sung and suitably cheesy performance in the fun number, Cortina, with the dancers well-rehearsed. The audience enjoys this number although it is a touch difficult to follow all of Sandra’s dialogue.
The men’s cast is fairly small in this show so there is a necessary number of duo/trio roles with most making strong efforts to bring out different characters required but, as previously mentioned, the ladies’ chorus is far stronger – perhaps appropriate given the nature of the show!
All in all a very enjoyable evening.
- : admin
- : 27/07/2018