NEVER could I have imagined that a musical about the struggle for equal pay for women would make me laugh out loud and then a minute later be close to tears, but that’s exactly what Andover Musical Theatre Company’s (AMTC) performance of Made in Dagenham did.

Drawn from the real-life strike in 1968 of the sewing machinists at the Ford factory in Dagenham, which was influential in the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1970 and based on the witty and emotional book by Richard Bean, AMTC’s interpretation is powerful.

Taking on the lead role of Rita O’Grady, Lou Ellison, who has been a member of AMTC for 18 years, highlighted what it was like to not only be a mother and a wife, but also a working woman in the 1960s.

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Her powerful voice shone to get across the message of the show, but that power was also used when the relationship between Rita and her husband, Eddie O'Grady, (played by Eddie Nias) became fragile and emotions were running high.

The relationship between them was traditional before progressing to one that you would expect to see in this day and age, with Eddie supporting his wife as she delivered a powerful speech to the TUC which changed everything.

Bringing a taste of America to Andover was Tooley, played by Bradley Hall, who as the Ford boss was brought over to stop the strike - but only ended up making everything worse for the town of Dagenham.

This is America, the opening song of act two, really introduced the audience to Tooley and I have to say, at first he came across as a funny 'Yank', but as time moved on you couldn't help but hate his character - Hall played this so well, and he kept up the accent through the performance - well done to him.

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A mention should be given to Becky Rungen who took on the role of Barbra Castle, the First Secretary of State for 'taking on the unions'. Rungen's performance showcased what it was like to be a woman in a male dominated world and her voice - whether she was talking or singing - was brilliant.

The whole cast were fantastic and despite a few technical difficulties they carried on to put a performance that they should be proud of.

Andover Musical Theatre Company's Made in Dagenham will be at The Lights until Saturday, May 25.

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