New Swanage musical rolls off production line after three years

Swanage Musical Theatre Company is back after a three year gap with Made in Dagenham, the show about women factory workers and their fight for equal pay in 1968.

Covid meant that the previous production of Blitz, set in the Second World War, was wiped out, so the crew were determined to come back with something that would make an impression. The show, based on a true story, runs from Thursday 31st March 2022 to Saturday 2nd April 2022.

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Made in Dagenham

Swanage Musical Theatre Company present Made in Dagenham at The Mowlem

“Doesn’t feel like three years”

Sara Dormer-Woolley plays the role of Sandra Beaumont, who is considered by her fellow seamstresses making car seats at the Ford car factory to be a traitor because she opposes strike action.

Sara said:

“It doesn’t feel like three years. It feels like a one show gap. I think we are really excited because we are driven by the show which is such good fun.

“Of course, we were a bit apprehensive but it’s nice to be back doing the hobby we all love to do.”

Made in Dagenham
Robert Diment-Davies
Made in Dagenham
Robert Diment-Davies

The men at the car plant are paid more

“Bit of a bang”

Explaining the choice of show, she said:

“We decided we needed to come back with something that had a bit of a bang and Made in Dagenham seemed to fit the bill.”

It’s a fun, vibrant, loud production that comes with a ‘language caution’. So, it’s only recommended for those aged 12 and above.

Made in Dagenham
SMTC
Made in Dagenham
SMTC
Made in Dagenham
SMTC

Rehearsals at the theatre company’s hall behind Swanage Bay View caravan park

“Is Swanage ready for this?”

Sara said:

“We had to ask ourselves is Swanage ready for this? Judging by the ticket sales the answer is yes!”

Although it’s a musical, there’s not one song that stands out but lots of different songs, interlaced with plenty of ‘one liners’ exchanged by a range of strong characters.

The factory girls are paid less than the men who are tyre engineers, even though they have to obtain more qualifications. That puts them on the road to strike action.

Made in Dagenham
Robert Diment-Davies

Secretary of State for Transport Barbara Castle has a word with Prime Minister Harold Wilson

Family affair

The show is not as expensive to stage as some productions which fitted the idea that they might have reduced audience numbers to accommodate social distancing in the theatre. But in the end, with restrictions lifted, there will be no social distancing in the circle seating.

And it’s quite the family affair as Sara is the daughter of Karen Woolley, the theatre company chairman and director of this year’s production and Karen Woolley’s mother, Sara’s grandmother, Dot Titley is in the chorus.

Brother Ben Woolley is backstage and father Jeff Woolley, director of a steel construction firm in Blandford, makes the sets and does general shifting.

Woolley family
SMTC
Karen Woolley, with right daughter Sara and left mother Dot
Sara Dormer-Woolley

Then and now – Sara Dormer-Woolley, Dot Titley and Karen Woolley

Sister Act

Sara is a personal trainer and completing her training as a physiotherapist, while Karen is a director of a Wareham estate agents, who supplied sale boards for advertising the show.

They are not the only family involved in productions – Emma Fidler, who plays the lead Rita O’Grady and was leading lady in previous shows Sister Act in 2018 and Sound of Music in 2019, is joined on stage by her sister Laura Jolly.

Sister Act
SMTC

Sister Act – Emma Fidler and Laura Jolly

“Always been a part of our lives”

And Swanage Drama Company’s panto dame Brian Travers, fresh from this year’s Snow White, takes on the role of Mr Tooley the American boss.

Sara added:

“For our family, musicals have always been a part of our lives. We have a shared love for The Mowlem and doing something fun together by putting on shows, so we’re always looking forward to the next production.”

And the next production, will see the cast go from picket lines to learning new lines. Rehearsals for the more conventional show My Fair Lady start in September 2022.

Further information

More about Made in Dagenham is on the company’s Facebook and to grab the last available tickets go to The Mowlem website

Made in Dagenham
Robert Diment-Davies

Mr Tooley, the American Ford boss, with Dagenham boss Mr Hopkins just before the release of the new Ford Cortina Mark 2

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