When the women at Ford’s car factory went out on strike in 1968, they could hardly have imagined they would inspire an acclaimed film and a hit West End musical.
Now Rugby Theatre is staging its own production of the feel-good musical Made in Dagenham – and it’s one of the first amateur groups in the country to be granted a licence to perform the show.
The big-screen version thrilled moviegoers in 2010, and then in 2014 the true story of the feisty Ford machinists was turned into a stage show starring Gemma Arterton.
Helen Dulcamara, who is directing the Rugby Theatre production, said: “I saw the show in the West End a couple of years ago, and thought it was absolutely wonderful. I’m so pleased we’re able to be one of the first amateur groups to perform the musical, and I know that audiences will love it just as much as I did when I first saw it.
“We have a sparkling cast and superb creative team who have worked incredibly hard to tell this astonishing true story in an entertaining way.
“At the start of rehearsals, we met some of the original Dagenham ‘girls’ who were part of the strike for fairer pay.
“It was fascinating to hear them talk about what actually happened all those years ago when they brought one of the UK’s biggest companies to its knees in the name of women’s rights. And it’s amazing to think how those women changed the face of industrial relations.
Michele Goode stars as unlikely strike leader and mum Rita, who is persuaded by her colleagues to front the campaign for fair pay for women workers. Mark Baird plays her hapless husband Eddie.
Michele said: “It has been a privilege to be part of this production, and I hope Rugby audiences will come along and support us in what I know will be a really wonderful show.”
Made in Dagenham opens on Saturday June 11 for a seven-night run.
Tickets are available by visiting the website rugbytheatre.co.uk or from the Rugby Theatre box office on (01788) 541234.