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Review: Made in Dagenham – the Musical

Rhian Lloyd-Ellis reviews Curtain Call Theatre Company’s recent production of Made in Dagenham – the Musical at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury.

Made in Dagenham the Musical proved to be a hit at Theatre Severn
Made in Dagenham the Musical proved to be a hit at Theatre Severn

‘Made in Dagenham’ made its world debut in London’s West End in 2014. It tells the true story of a group of women who work as sewing machinists at Ford and discover that their job is listed as ‘unskilled’ and that they are being paid less than the men in the factory. This led to the strike in 1968 which was a trigger for the ‘Equal Pay Act 1970.’

This story, although fifty years old, has a powerful message and Curtain Call Theatre Company successfully executed this with a talented cast, effective choreography and commanding direction.

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Curtain Call Theatre Company are proving to be the one to watch on the Shropshire Arts scene. Their previous success includes productions of ‘Bad Girls: the Musical’, ‘The Addams Family’ and ‘Into the Woods’. The company offers fantastic opportunities for local talent to showcase their skills at different venues around Shrewsbury. I have been lucky enough to witness the talent on stage in previous productions and ‘Made in Dagenham’ did not disappoint.

Taking place in the Walker Theatre at Theatre Severn, the space offers a great view of the set and creates an atmosphere where audiences don’t only watch a show but become part of it. The director clearly wanted this and the use of audience participation during ‘Stand Up’ was a huge highlight of the show.

The set was minimal, but effective, allowing the focus to be on the talent on stage. The band could not be seen but heard very clearly out front and the sound balance was good. The costumes were true to the era and with the décor of the set it felt as if you were back in the sixties.

The ensemble were incredibly strong and each performer was very well cast. The story follows Rita and her family as she struggles to balance leading the strike and family life. Rita, played by Ffion Davies, is a sincere and likeable character. Ffion’s vocals were superb and her portrayal of Rita was believable and, in parts, moving. Rita’s two children played by Morgan Lewis and Maddie Davies were very professional and clear in their delivery.

George Hargrave, who played Rita’s husband Eddie, delivered a stand out performance in ‘The Letter’ that moved the audience to tears. Currently studying Musical Theatre, George is certainly a rising star.

The entire cast had a wonderful energy and there were moments for each cast member to be showcased on stage. Ruth Jones, who played the smart mouthed Beryl was exceptional and had the audience in stitches alongside Bex Hope who played Clare. Lisa Van Der Horst, as always, was spectacular and effortlessly commands a stage. The male members of the cast were also strong and included Joe Philips who played a brilliant villain. Matt Spencer, who played a number of roles proved to be a very versatile performer and had the audience swaying along to ‘Cortina’.

I am so pleased that this small, friendly Musical Theatre Company continues to grow and improve with each production. The next instalment will be a teen production of ‘Carrie: the Musical’ which will play at The Wightman Theatre on 11th and 12th August 2018. Tickets will be available later this year.

Made in Dagenham – the Musical was produced by Curtain Call Theatre Company at Theatre Severn between 14th – 17th May 2018.

Reviewed by Rhian Lloyd-Ellis

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