How women from Dagenham Ford factory made history in Eastbourne

Made In Dagenham by the Rattionians
Made In Dagenham by the Rattionians

When the women of Ford Dagenham came to Eastbourne in 1968 they made their case at the TUC conference for women to get equal pay as their male colleagues were earning significantly more.

Those women have gone down in history as changing the opportunities women have in the workplace.

Not necessarily, you might think the obvious story for a musical comedy, but this show is about real people with ordinary lives and it is both poignant and funny. The show has a fabulous score and the Rattonians have relished working on a British musical packed with satire and wit. So much has changed since the 1960s but much is as relevant today as it was then.

Following on from the highly successful film in 2010, the stage musical opened at the Adelphi Theatre in 2014 and starred Gemma Arteton, former Bond Girl and movie actress. The show has only just been released for amateur performance and The Rattonians couldn’t miss the opportunity to perform it, particularly with its links to Eastbourne. Mark and Melanie Adams, Producers of the show, saw it in London and loved it, so it was an easy choice for them. Melanie said, “It has a wonderful reality to it and it has really made me think about how lucky women are now that women stood up for what was right. The roles of Barbara Castle, which I play, and Harold Wilson (Steve Clarke) are great fun and very tongue in cheek.”

Chloe Shearer plays the lead role of Rita O’Grady with Wayne Newton playing her husband, Eddie, struggling with managing the children while Rita is battling the cause. Both actors have formidable voices and songs to match.

The production is directed by Mark Adams, with musical director Carl Greenwood, and choreographed by Jan Lynton.

The Rattonians will be serving up all their usual energy and vibrant professionalism at The Congress Theatre from July 26.

Tuesday night is preview night with special price tickets, the show then runs from Wednesday to Saturday July 30 with performances 7.30pm nightly and matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm. Book tickets on 01323 412000 - or online at Eastbourne Theatres.

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