The cast of the Queen’s Theatre’s major upcoming production Made in Dagenham were thrilled to meet the original Ford Dagenham strikers – on whom the musical is based.
The 21 actor-musicians – the largest ever Queen’s Theatre cast – were thoroughly honoured to be given the golden opportunity on Tuesday to be introduced to Eileen Pullen and Gwen Davis, two of the pioneering women who helped lead the historical sewing machinists’ pay strike in 1968.
Based on the hit film, Made in Dagenham – The Musical is inspired by the story of this famous walk-out, which eventually led to the establishment of the Equal Pay Act in 1970. This Queen’s Theatre production will be the first ever revival of the musical since its West End triumph.
Earlier that morning, the Queen’s Theatre held the production’s official photo shoot featuring female cast members costumed in blue factory overalls. Eileen, 87, and Gwen, 84, joined the company, meeting for tea in the Theatre café before posing for photos and chatting with the ladies over lunch.
Eileen and Gwen joined director Douglas Rintoul and the full company for rehearsals in the afternoon, and were delighted to talk and answer questions about their time at Ford and their fight against discrimination. They also enjoyed watching a selection of short routines from the show.
Eileen says: “Back in 1968, we had no idea we were starting something that would become so important. It was lovely meeting everyone at the Queen’s Theatre. We never get tired of speaking about this special time in our lives.”
“It was amazing for us to meet the ladies,” beams lead actress Daniella Bowen. “They were very generous with their time. They gave us so many valuable stories and it was lovely to hear them talk so fondly of their time at Ford.”
Made in Dagenham – The Musical is a co-production with New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich and launches Douglas Rintoul’s debut season in Hornchurch.
About the show: Dagenham, 1968. Rita’s a busy mum, loving wife and hard-working Ford factory employee. But something’s very wrong. Rita and her female colleagues find themselves working long hours sewing car seats for far less money than the men. And they’ve had enough. Finding a voice she never knew she had, Rita leads the women on a trailblazing battle for equal pay, taking on the unions, Ford’s top brass and the Government. As the pressure mounts, Rita struggles to keep up the fight and the happy home she’s worked so hard for.
The cast includes: Angela Bain, Daniella Bowen, Daniel Carter-Hope, Dan de Cruz, Sophie-May Feek, Jeffrey Harmer, Callum Harrower, Joey Hickman, Anthony Hunt, Martina Isibor, Graham Kent, Claire Machin, Wendy Morgan, Jamie Noar, Loren O’Dair, Elizabeth Rowe, Sioned Saunders, Sarah Scowen, Steve Simmonds, Thomas Sutcliffe and Alex Tomkins. Musical Direction is by Ben Goddard, Choreography by Tim Jackson, Design by Hayley Grindle, Lighting Design by Paul Anderson, Sound Design by Emma Laxton, Voice Coaching by Charmian Hoare and Matthew Dewsbury is Casting Director.
Made in Dagenham – The Musical has a book by Richard Bean, music is by David Arnold and lyrics by Richard Thomas. Based on the Woolley/Karlsen/Number 9 Motion Picture. This production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited. The show runs at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch from 26 August – 17 September. Tickets are from £12.50 – £30. Call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or book online.