BEHIND THE SCENES: West End Launch of MADE IN DAGENHAM
The Playhouse today hosted the press launch of Made in Dagenham, the upcoming musical adaptation of the 2010 Nigel Cole film opening at the Adelphi Theatre in October this year.
An audience that included press, invited guests and even a cheery quartet of the Essex factory girls upon whom the film was based was treated to a series of brief discussions with the show's creative team and a chance to hear five brand new songs from the original score.
Director Rupert Goold, vaunted as overseeing "the golden age of the Almeida Theatre", spoke warmly about his experience with the musical's several workshops and overall developmental process. Along with librettist Richard Bean, composer David Arnold and lyricist Richard Thomas, Goold showed genuine excitement and enthusiasm for the show, and for "bringing back" musical theatre as a serious artform. Although the writers are largely musical novices, they have developed a strong working relationship and shared vision for the show: one that is, ultimately, about solidarity. Richard Bean referenced his background working in a factory amongst these women and how they are "always in [his] head" during the writing process.
Goold also touted the show as "feminist" - though it was slightly disheartening to have a creative team comprised of four men representing this female-driven piece. In fairness, Goold made specific reference to the work of Aletta Collins, who provides Dagenham's choreography, and Bunny Christie, set and costume designer. Nonetheless, it would perhaps have been nice to hear from these key women at the launch of the show.
The cast, led by a fizzing, charming Gemma Arterton, performed a selection of songs with gusto. Standout was Adrian Der Gregorian as Rita's defeated husband, Eddie, whose moving ballad 'I Can't Do This' provided a nice balance to the rousing, high energy company numbers that seem likely to feature heavily in the show. The wonderfully diverse female ensemble, led by Arterton, deliver the feisty 'This is What We Want' with real brio, and the previously released 'Everybody Out' is just as thrilling live as on recording. Gemma Arterton, who claims her only singing experience is in karaoke, boasts a terrific voice, which combines with her natural warmth and grace to make Rita a charismatic, exciting lead.
Overall, Made in Dagenham looks set to be a big, fun, energetic new British musical. The selections presented at the launch suggest Hairspray meets Essex - bright, bold and vibrant. If the show's script fills in the gaps with a good measure of wit and heart, this could be a very hot ticket come October.
Made in Dagenham begins previews on 9th October at the Adelphi Theatre. The cast includes Gemma Arterton, Adrian Der Gregorian, Mark Hadfield, Sophie Stanton, Heather Craney, Sophie Isaacs, Julius D'Silva, and Naomi Frederick. They will be joined by Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Thomas Aldridge, Kate Coysten, Christopher Howell, Scott Garnham, Ian Jervis, Paul Kemble, Emma Lindars, Jo Napthine, Tracey Penn, Gemma Salter, Gareth Snook, Rachel Spurrell, Emily Squibb, Karli Vale and Rene Zagger.
Photo credit: Alex James