Following its woefully short-lived run at the Adelphi Theatre in 2015, the only opportunity to catch this upbeat musical is now in the hands of amateur theatre companies. This company rises to the occasion in their lively adaptation of
Hibbert and Clark have excellent chemistry that carries the heart of the show
Made in Dagenham the musical strays somewhat from the 2010 film, turning more towards comedy as opposed to drama. This version also leads with humour and enjoys drawing laughs from small cameo parts. In this element, director Dan Schumann uses his cast very well.
Singing is most impressive in ensemble sections, creating a powerful wall of sound and well-executed harmonies. There are a few timing issues throughout the show, possibly due to the absence of a live band. Choreography is often unoriginal, and not always perfectly executed. There are some instances where naturalism could have replaced choreographed movement. However, the ensemble bring a great amount of fun and energy to the stage to make up for this.
Although the show as a whole isn’t impressively executed, individual performances carry it through. Kerry Hibbert as Rita possesses a sweet tone and nicely balances initial hesitancy with a powerful gumption by the end. Unfortunately, due to some ill-judged cutting, Hibbert’s stage time is limited, and she isn’t given enough opportunity to show off her vocals.
Sarah Shorney as the unashamedly crude Beryl delivers a wonderfully gutsy performance, as does Donna Kitching as Mrs Hopkins, who is definitely ‘fiery, like her hair.’ Ben Clark as Rita’s husband Eddie is the stand-out performance of the night, growing from the playfully forgetful husband with a penchant for chips on toast, to a moving and vocally stunning rendition of “The Letter”. Hibbert and Clark have excellent chemistry that carries the heart of the show.
Made in Dagenham doesn’t deliver a professional polished performance. What it does deliver is a dose of lively entertainment, and some stand-out performances.