Barton Peveril’s Sell Out ‘Made in Dagenham’ Production

The Barton Peveril Performing Arts Company’s production of Made in Dagenham had the Rose Theatre filled with multiple sold-out performances, at the start of March.

The production, which was performed by First Year students on the Performing Arts: Musical Theatre course, saw four shows, over two casts. The production amassed over 700 audience members over the course of three evening shows and one matinee, with two of the evening performances selling out the Rose Theatre. The 61 Musical Theatre students performed the show after having only been at the college for six months.

Act 1, Cortina Cast. Centre: Lydia O’Donovan (Cass)
Act 1, Cortina Cast. Centre: Anastasia Warren (Beryl)

The story takes place in Essex, in 1968. It centres around Rita O’Grady, who leads a fight for equal pay for her and her female coworkers, whose pay grade drops, earning less than their male counterparts.

The 61 actors were divided into two casts, Cortina and Fiesta, with each cast performing twice. Both casts saw standing ovations after their performances of the musical. One audience member said that:

The confidence shown on stage from every young person was inspiring and truly remarkable.”

Above: The factory girls argue with Monty (Bobby Smart), union shop steward, about their new pay grade

Lisa Fernandez-Adams, a Director of the production, and subject leader for Musical Theatre at Barton Peveril reflected on the show:

“We are so delighted that so many audience members had the chance to see not one, but two incredibly talented casts produce such a powerful, witty, poignant and polished production of ‘Made in Dagenham’. Having been at Barton Peveril for just six months, we are very proud of how our first year Musical Theatre students performed with such conviction and commitment. We saw our students develop their skills hugely by being given this opportunity, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from our audience members. We had laughter, tears, rooting for the Ford Factory Workers and elation when they finally achieved equal pay. We are looking forward to continuing this success with our incredibly talented class of 2024!”

Sophie White played Rita O’Grady in the Cortina Cast. She spoke about her ‘great experience’ playing the protagonist:

I have been pushed and challenged, and have improved within the short time of being at Barton already and I have all the teachers within Barton’s Performing Arts [Department] to thank for that. And although at times I may have let nerves get the better of me I am so grateful for the support that was shown by teachers, students and even the Technicians. ‘Made in Dagenham’ gave me the wonderful opportunity to be my first lead in a production/musical and what an amazing experience it has been to be in a full scale musical with professional costumes, lighting, set, and even a live pit band.

The atmosphere, the buzz and the feedback from our audiences was phenomenal and made our overall performances so much better. ‘Made in Dagenham’ was amazingly directed and we also staged some scenes and songs ourselves, which really helped us develop in a creative way. Overall I have had so much fun working on ‘Made in Dagenham’! What an amazing experience it has been for my first year at Barton.”

Amelia Sly (Pictured above) played Rita O’Grady in the Fiesta cast.

The Fiesta cast during a scene at the Trade Union Congress

Eddie O’Grady, Rita’s factory-worker Husband, was played by Joseph Foster, in the Fiesta Cast. Joseph reflected on his experience, and the story’s importance in current-day Britain.

My experience of performing ‘Made In Dagenham’ came with a mixture of feelings that ranged from exhilaration and joy, to fatigue and a well deserved ‘show crash’ the next couple days. I absolutely loved this show, each rehearsal and run was as fun (and slightly stressful) as the last. The ticket sales from across all 4 shows were bizarre to everyone involved having sold so many tickets!  However the main thing I took away from this experience is the fact that equality and equal pay for women is still a huge problem in the UK in this day in age. And we all need to stand up and make a change.”

Jimmi Donelly played Tooley, the Ford U.S. Executive. An American who does not sympathise with girls of Ford Dagenham.
Luca Cascarini played Eddie O’Grady in the Cortina cast.
The Fiesta cast during ‘Viva Eastbourne’
Cortina Man (Zeth Franco) with Sandra (Lily Rochard) during ‘Cortina!’. Fiesta cast
Clare (Sacha Laguela) during ‘Storm Clouds’. Fiesta cast
The Cortina boys during ‘Made in Dagenham’
British associates talk to Tooley. Fiesta cast
Barbara Castle (Alessandra Gulisano) delivers a talk at the Trade Union Congress
The girls of Ford Dagenham. Cortina cast.
Sam David Head played Harold Wilson, the UK Prime Minister at the time, in both casts.

Photos taken by Julien Leost

One Comment “Barton Peveril’s Sell Out ‘Made in Dagenham’ Production”

  • Nicky H


    Absolutely adored everything about this production. It was so professional, from the actors and musicians to the fabulous lighting and set. Can’t wait to see another Barton spectacular!

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