Review: Made in Dagenham at Cromer Pier, under the bonnet is a finely-tuned show

The women on strike in the CSODS version of Made in Dagenham. Picture: Steven Burbidge

The women on strike in the CSODS version of Made in Dagenham. Picture: Steven Burbidge - Credit: Steven Burbidge

Sexual discrimination and strikes in a car factory are unlikely ingredients for a jolly stage musical.

Annabelle Culley and Josh Hinds as Rita and Eddie O'Grady in Made in Dagenham, performed by CSODS. P

Annabelle Culley and Josh Hinds as Rita and Eddie O'Grady in Made in Dagenham, performed by CSODS. Picture: Steven Burbidge - Credit: Steven Burbidge

But them powering story of the downtrodden women machinists on a Ford car seat production line in the 1960s is an uplifting tale that gets you in its clutches with a high octane mix of poignant, funny and rousing moments.

The annual spring musical by the Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society, based on a true story, shows the feisty females discovering untapped strengths to fight their corner in a pay dispute that was a landmark victory for all women workers.

Ringleader Rita O'Grady, who is torn between family and fellow women workers, is played with soul and spirit – and a sweet singing voice - by Annabelle Culley as she leads a nationwide strike.

Josh Hinds impresses as husband Eddie, a Ford production line worker who also finds himself affected as the ripples of the women's action spreads when a Trump-like oaf of an American boss shuts down the Dagenham line. Josh shows his vocal talents in an emotional song The Letter when the dispute divides the family.

The Cromer and Sheringham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society stage Made in Dagenham at the Pavili

The Cromer and Sheringham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society stage Made in Dagenham at the Pavilion Theatre, Cromer Pier, to Saturday. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant


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The show is laced with Sixties style pop songs and dance, some powerful chorus harmonies and well-drilled choreography from Carol Beatty.

Andrew Payne pipes up with a brilliant comedy caricature of Prime Minister Harold Wilson which was one of the highlights, while Chrissie Robertson shows off her soaring voice as the formidable Employment Secretary Barbara Castle.

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Special mention too for the minimal but clever sets – including a Cortina car - which changed 28 times during the fast-paced show slickly directed by Robin Taylor.

Yes there is a boot full of sixties clichés, un-PC jokes and sexism - but they are what the show is all about, highlighting a time looked back on with fondness and horror in equal measure.

Well done CSODS for steering away from the tried and tested classic musicals and staging a fresh modern show.

There were a couple of minor first night misfires, mainly technical, but some minor tweaks under the bonnet should provide a finely-tuned show running until June 3.

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