Theatre Review: Made in Dagenham the Musical

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Excited for the greatly anticipated stage-adaptation of Made in Dagenham to hit the West End? We are! SuperBreak’s David Haynes was lucky enough to attend a preview performance last week and he’s here to tell us all about it…

If you want the really short version, then here it is… Go and see Made in Dagenham, it’s brilliant.

Now for the longer one…

I will, perhaps unfairly, make comparisons with Billy Elliot as a) it was the last show I saw in London and b) they both centre around industrial action. In fact all I need now is a stage production of ‘Brassed Off’ and I’ll have the hat-trick.

Firstly, a bit about the venue the Adelphi. It’s smaller than the Victoria Palace, which I thought gave it a more intimate feeling and even though I was in higher up in the dress circle I still felt close to the stage and got that sense of involvement with what was going on. As such the view was excellent, and at one point some of the actors actually came up to where we were for one of the songs which was quite novel. It was also just the right temperature too, which sounds a bit daft, but as much as I enjoyed Billy they’d gone a bit crackers with the thermostat so I did feel like I was going to melt at any moment. This time I went prepared and layered appropriately, but as it turns out it wasn’t necessary.

MID-stage-shot

It’s worth mentioning at this point that I’ve not seen the film, however I was quite glad of this as other than reading the synopsis, the story was largely a mystery to me. It’s also the first time I’ve ever been to a preview, so that made it all the more exciting. There was also a minor ‘celebrity’ spot beforehand too: the shorter of the West Ham chairmen Gold and Sullivan, he still looked miserable though, even though his team are doing pretty well; there’s no pleasing some people!

As for the show itself I thought it was wonderful. I have a preference for musical theatre, as previous trips to see Shakespeare and the like were merely to continue the ruse that I’m in some way cultured (after several years my wife is still non-the-wiser). I’m also a really harsh critic when it comes to singing, however I thought this was excellent, so I don’t say it lightly. Making her way from Hollywood to the West End, Gemma Arteton was good as you’d expect being the lead, however the actresses playing the youngest of the factory girls and Barbara Castle were also really top drawer.

Made-in-Dagenham-the-Musical

Coming back the comparison, Made in Dagenham is more light hearted than Billy and doesn’t get quite as gritty (although the language is just as blue at times), but it’s still emotionally charged in parts and I thought Gemma gave a very passionate performance (she was on the radio recently and apparently there are bits I should have cried at, however I’m officially dead inside). There are plenty of belly-laughing moments too, particularly those involving Harold Wilson who really steals the show with the ‘Balance of Payments’ number. I also thought it was well-paced and spread out, so I didn’t feel that it dragged on, it was funny throughout and none of the songs were in there for the sake of it. Casting the American’s as the villains inspires a nice bit of jingoism too, but it’s all in good fun.

It opens in a week’s time as I write this (Gemma was keen to get that in whilst on the radio as you can imagine) and she does sound like she’s working hard, so I really hope it does well.

So there you are, go and see Made in Dagenham, it’s brilliant!

Have you book your hotel and ticket package to see Made in Dagenham the Musical yet? What other theatre breaks are you planning? Let us know by filling out the box below. 

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