Review: Made in Dagenham at Cromer Pier, under the bonnet is a finely-tuned show
- Credit: Steven Burbidge
Sexual discrimination and strikes in a car factory are unlikely ingredients for a jolly stage musical.
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.
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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.