With lots of fun and lots of energy, MAC’s production of Made in Dagenham offers everything you could want from a musical. Upbeat songs, well-developed characters and good humour were backed up with plenty of heart for a fun yet powerful performance.
The story follows the trials of Rita O’Grady, a working class wife and mother who finds herself leading the charge on equal pay for women. Like all good stories, it has ups, it has downs, it has adversity, and, of course, it has a happy ending. The fact that it’s a true story gives it an extra kick.
Despite the professional looking programme claiming this to be an ‘amateur production’, it must be said that the music and the singing were top-notch. Group pieces were full of energy, yet individual singers remained distinct, everyone hit their notes and everyone sung to time. Though everyone was terrific, I was particularly impressed by Alex William’s (Eddie O’Grady) solo, which was clear and heartfelt. Dance routines were all conducted with great energy, presence and timing. I especially enjoyed the synchronised head nods and foot kicks, which make all the difference but are hard to pull off well - a testament to the hard work that must have gone into the performance.
I was also impressed that the show was accompanied by a live conducted group, rather than a backing music track. It was clear that everyone, both on stage and in the band, was having a really good time, and of course the audience responded in kind. Though there were a couple of microphone balancing errors, it really didn't matter, and frankly I was surprised by how well the sound engineer was able to pull things off with so many people moving quickly on and off a relatively small stage .
The cherries on top for me were the small comic touches which director Nicky Robinson cleverly weaved in. I loved the costumes in the America song. I loved the casual swearing. I loved the 1960s pattern dresses and the beehive hairdos. I loved Harold Wilson’s bucket and spade. It was all done with great humour and a good sense of what would work. The two hour plus production really did fly by, and a good time was had by all. MAC productions clearly put the effort in, and the result was well worth it.