Interview No. 4 with Springers ‘Made in Dagenham’ Cast

This is the fourth interview from the Springers AOD “Made in Dagenham” cast

Introducing Anvers Anderson as Harold Wilson & Helen Quigley as Barbara Castle

TL:                    Anvers and Helen, Can you tell us a little bit about the Characters you are playing in Made In Dagenham?

Anvers:             Ok, I’m playing Harold Wilson, I really respect him in most respects, not just for what he did but his intellect too. I was really impressed with his involvement with ‘I’m backing Britain’. I remember the Campaign, we had little badges and he asked everyone, mostly secretaries to work an extra ½ hr a day for free to get economy back on its feet.  He was also smart enough to know when his Alzheimer’s was affecting his intellectual prowess, so he stepped back without saying anything and it was the right time to stand down.  This show actually shows him as a bit of light entertainment and a bit fluffy which is a lot of fun to play and I’m really looking forward to the reactions of the audience. The reactions will be two-fold – the big Labourites will say this is not the way he should have been portrayed and the ladies may react because of some of his sexist comments

Helen:              …but then you walk into a cupboard

Anvers:             (laughing)  yes I walk into a cupboard and make a real idiot of myself, But its great fun and a great part to play looking forward to getting stuck into it. And I really enjoy the song.

Helen:              And I’m Barbara Castle.  She was something of an iconic figure and a bit before my time – I didn’t realise how much of an impact she had back then, bringing in seat belt laws and she was very instrumental in getting the equal pay act through.  She’s not on much but when she is on there is a lot to say and she makes a big impact which is one of the reasons I wanted to do it. She’s not very tolerant of Harold

Anvers:              No. She’s not very tolerant of him but they work together, really closely.

Helen:              They did yes and that shows in this a bit and they have a bit of pop at each other quite a bit, which clearly would have happened behind closed doors.  I wanted to do the show as I’d seen it in the west end and I’m a great fan of David Arnold’s music and I wasn’t sure what part to go for and remember the Barbara Castle part but because she’s older than me I ruled it out.  Then a friend said the song she sings is great, it’s a ‘Helen’ song so I listened to it and went yes that’s great.  And it helps that we are both northerners

Anvers:             Yes, we are both northerners!

Helen:              So, it’s appropriate that we are both playing northern parts.

Anvers:             Another thing about Harold was that he did smoke a pipe but he did smoke cigarettes too but the really interesting thing was he used his pipe for thinking time. As if he was just doing his pipe but it allowed him time to think of his answer which is very smart I think. Not that I intend to take up the pipe.

Helen:              The one thing I found interesting about Barbara in this show is that she does have to walk a line between supporting the women and sticking to the government line and that must have been quite difficult at the time

Anvers:             She did have to do it at the time and she was brilliant a really effective MP

TL:                    So How does Made in Dagenham compare to other musicals around at the moment?

Anvers:             Although it is relatively new, I don’t think we could have chosen a better time to do it with the 50yrs/100yrs anniversaries and we are still debating it today about, equality in big institutions like the BBC. It’s definitely different from Les Miserables or My Fair Lady, as it’s a modern musical just not quite as modern as Hamilton

Helen:               Or kinky boots which opened in London at the same time

TL:                    Why should people get tickets to see it?

Helen:              Because it’s a musical about Essex, in Essex. Dagenham is just down the road from us.

Anvers:             And a huge amount of people worked for Ford in the area and the old Ford training building is just down the road, a lot of people worked for them

TL:                    What do you think is the best bit of the show so far?

Helen:              I’m loving the interplay between the family, You get a feeling that it is a real family. The kids are great and the mum and dad are just playing their parts brilliantly. On top of all of that, the vocal aspect has just some fabulous harmonies – so powerful.

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A timely reminder about the Gods of Scene changes…..

As I return to working backstage this week, I thought it appropriate to remind people about the hard work these individuals do. So…..

Have you been to the Dark Side, where the Magic Happens?

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The dark side is the home of backstage magic. The universe of the Stage Manager, who leads the special, invisible people to make scene changes happen and allow the production to run smoothly. If all the world’s a Stage, then he/she is God!

While the actors are performing in front of the tabs, I’ve known Stage Managers and Deputy Stage Managers skilfully move large, noisy, un-wielding pieces of set behind the scenes by gently massaging them into place so as not to disturb the action for the audience.  Now that’s a real skill.

These masters of the dark with their unfailing stage crew put together a whole show at a technical rehearsal and yes it doesn’t always go exactly to plan but until you have crossed to the ‘dark side’ you have no idea of the stress and pressure they are under, because whether you like it or not they the unsung heroes to the audience…. unless it all goes pear-shaped and then it’s still probably not entirely their fault. They take the blame for many of the actors’ foibles and are so well disciplined they know the answer to everything is gaffer tape and a large hammer!

I’ve never heard an audience leaving a play or show, saying it was fantastic and weren’t the scene changes brilliant (those that do understand what is required, may make these comments from time to time) but you do hear people saying as they leave – if it didn’t go to plan – the scene changes were so slow it spoiled it for me etc, etc.

The actual role of a ‘Stage Manager’ seems to vary from society to society. Some call all the cues like a DSM, some run their brigade like a military operation and some have a much more laid back approach. Whichever one you have, they are still the boss when the show opens.

As a Director, I see the Stage Manager as vital in bringing the vision to the stage. I have been fortunate to work with some amazing Stage Managers who understand the weird requests put upon them, usually with late notice at a tech rehearsal and they always pull it out of the bag – what Magicians!

A good Stage Manager and stage crew need love, understanding (and usually feeding on beer or any alcohol after the show!). If you are an actor, next time you don’t get in a show or the part you want – why not sign up to work backstage – I guarantee if you haven’t done it before you will see a new side to the production. Personally, I think every actor should, on a regular basis, step out of the limelight and work backstage on crew, wardrobe or props but this sadly is not done as often as it should.

Next time you do a production, take a moment to appreciate you Stage Manager and his crew, think how you would perform on just one full rehearsal and whether you could pull it off!  Then remember if you don’t stay on the right side of him/her you will be performing in the dark, behind a piece of scenery or trapped in the wings!!

I love the Stage Managers prayer: “Lord Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those actors I had to kill because they pissed me off” …. So remember you have been warned!!

‘Bottoms up’ to all those Backstage on the dark side!

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Our final Interview with the Made in Dagenham Cast

This is our final interview with Springers AOD ‘Made in Dagenham’ cast

Introducing Amy Serin as Rita O Grady

TL:                    Hi Amy, Can you tell us a something about the Character you are playing in Made In Dagenham?

Amy:                Rita is a mother of two works in the factory as one of the machinists.  She goes on a bit of a journey during the show, she is just one of the girls at the start but she finds her political voice and strength in her heart to enable her to fight for something she thinks is right and to try and change the world in some sort of way. It’s not easy for her to find the balance between her family and fighting for what’s right.

TL:                    What attracted you to take part IN Made In Dagenham.

Amy:                I always loved the show so when I heard Springers were doing it, I dared to dream that I might get the chance to play Rita. I grew up in a house of women with no men, so lots of strong women around me and I was always the girl and teenager shouting about women’s rights from a young age getting on my soapbox.  So this a dream part for me as well as it being the anniversary of 50yrs since the Dagenham ladies strike and 100yrs of suffragette movement just a brilliant year to take part in this show and we still have so much to fight for.

TL:                    For those who don’t know the show, is it just about Feminism and history?

Amy,                 Well, Yes, it is to a degree but also about family and Rita’s daughter is a big part of why she decides to take the fight on and why she goes on the journey she does and also about how the men fit into the picture and get their heads around how the women are changing and how their lives will change.

TL:                    Why should People get tickets to see it?

Amy:                It’s a Really funny show with brilliant big choral numbers, the fantastic music leaves you with a real uplifted feeling and it’s nice to leave empowered like that..

TL:                    What do you think is the best bit of the show at the moment

Amy:                Harold Wilsons scene and his aides – it’s just fantastic and will steal the show.

 

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Interview No. 7 with ‘Made in Dagenham’ Cast

This is 7th interview with Springers AOD ‘Made in Dagenham’ Cast

Introducing Catherine Gregory as Connie

TL:                    Hi Catherine, can you tell us something about Connie?

Catherine:        She’s the union representative, the steward for the girls and she instigated the grievance procedure.  She is feisty and married to the job and her cause I think. The song she sings talks about ‘how I married the labour party’.

TL:                    So What attracted you to this show and the part?

Catherine:        I worked in Dagenham as a district nursing sister and I know how underprivileged they are around there. Everyone was raving about it and I listened to it one day while I was baking in the kitchen and then Connie’s song came on and it touched me it was so poignant and I just loved her from that minute

TL:                    Is the show just about feminism and Women’s Rights?

Catherine:        No. Other than it’s the 50 year anniversary, I think it’s about getting treated fairly regardless of sex.

TL:                    So what is the best part of it so far

Catherine:        I love the opening number of the show –  “Made in Dagenham” it sounds awesome and we have a lovely cast, all really nice people so rehearsals are fun, just as they should be.

TL:                    So why should people come and see it

Catherine:        Well the Music is good, the acting is good, we put have a lot of work into it and it will give people some good entertainment. It’s a great show with lots of good singing and dancing

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Interview with Springers ‘Made in Dagenham’ cast

This is our 6th Interview with the Springers AOD ‘Made in Dagenham’ Cast and Team

Introducing Eric Smart, The Show’s Director & Jackie Bates, the Assistant Director

 

 

TL:                    So, what is your involvement in the show?

Eric:                  I haven’t directed for Springers for 9 years as I’ve been Directing elsewhere but when Made in Dagenham came up I was really interested. You have to apply to be the director, about 3 applied and I was lucky enough to get it. The show captured my imagination different to anything I’ve done before.

It appealed to me for 3 reasons 1) the drama, 2) telling of a true story and 3) the in it – these three combined this could be a really excellent show and I supposed I was very lucky to get the cast I got. I’ve been lucky with all the head of departments i.e. wardrobe, props, Jackie as my assistant and Marcus as Production Assistant, Ian as Musical Director so everybody sort of came up trumps and not shirked at what they are supposed to do so it’s given me a chance to really concentrate on the directing side. I am really enjoying rehearsals it’s been really good fun and sometimes controlling 40 people on the stage at the same time is not always easy and to have so many men is brilliant. But I am really enjoying doing it.

Jackie:              I wanted to have the experience of being an Assistant Director as I have done a couple of shows but my roles were backstage really, just follow spotting etc. I got involved through Offspringers the youth group but I worked in Dagenham in the 1980’s and knew lots of people who worked in Fords so I when I saw it at Hornchurch I thought what a great show, it’s so funny, So I wanted to be involved. Last summer I applied to be the assistant and I was lucky enough to be selected to work with Eric.  For me every song, every line is just so funny and to do it in the 100thyear of the women getting the vote. I’m just so, so, so excited

Eric:                  She’s been like this since she knew she was the assistant director …. bring out the Valium (both laugh)

Jackie:              as Eric said to have all these men

Eric:                 We didn’t have enough at the start, but they’ve all come in and have all  come up to the mark

TL:                    Is this just a show about Feminism and history?

Eric:                 I guess it is. I would probably describe it like that, the political side of the story is humourous – Harold and Barbara. Barbara is more straight-faced, where Harold is unconscious humour – he really hasn’t got a clue and it might have been like that. In two scenes he has his governmental aides they are a hoot to direct all very strong singing voices and great to direct and up for anything. That’s a joy as well.

 

TL:                    What is the best bit about the show so far?

E:                     The humour of all the elements of the show if people don’t laugh, ok they’ll have to accept some strong language, swearing – it’s not gratuitous it’s simply there as part of the language and how some of them spoke.

J:                      The whole thing virtually every line of dialogue or song is just so funny.

E:                     The humour is what drives me at the moment, I do love the element of drama to it and there are some really poignant moments between Eddie and Rita because their relationship is tested just about as far as it can go. The cast are strong singers anyway and put the numbers over well. But, I would still say the humour for me.

 

TL:                    How does MID compare to other musicals people may have seen?

 

E:                     My opinion of it, well when I saw it in the West End, I hadn’t seen the musical or the film before but I knew the story and it appealed to me on two different levels, one it was truly educational which is not something you often get in a musical and the other element that struck me at the time was I could listen to this music all night.  It’s the sort of music, not even having heard it before, well it has quite a variation in styles as a musical, so it stands alone in that respect, that the music could match something like ‘Carousel’ or ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ it is music that is very enjoyable to listen to, that and the telling of the story is probably where it differentiates itself.

 

TL:                    Why should people come and see MID?

E:                     Well, I suppose if I had to put a strapline on it, it would be Come and see this show because you will have a great night out, you will laugh and you will cry. We haven’t got to the end yet and the final number is quite rousing

J:                      It’s very emotional when she wins them over

E:                     Hugely emotional, I would love to get the audience to stand up in the Civic at the end. I do think it could be really, really moving.

 

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Interview No.5 with Springers ‘Made in Dagenham’ Cast

This is the fifth interview with Springers AOD “Made in Dagenham” Cast

Introducing Bethan Anderson as Sandra

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TL:                    Bethan, tell us a bit about your character Sandra?

Bethan:            Sandra is a ‘tart with a heart’. She likes a good time to have a laugh and a drink but she has got a heart of gold and she loves the girls she works with.

TL:                    What attracted you to Sandra and the show?

Bethan:            I like a revolution in a show & with it being 50yrs and 100yrs and equality this was never something I could miss, ever.

TL:                    So how does it compare to other shows you have seen or done?

Bethan:            Well it’s a modern musical and really nice to have so many lead female roles. It’s not often there are more roles for women than there are for men at the moment so it gives the women a chance to show off.

TL:                    Whats the best bit of the show so far?

Bethan:            All of it. I love it, I literally enjoy rehearsals every week.

TL:                    So Why should people buy tickets to see it?

Bethan:            Because it’s fabulous. It’s a prominent year for women’s equality and the gender pay gap is all so prominent in the news, and it’s brilliant but when do we ever get to do a show in Essex about Essex.

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Interview with Springers ‘Made in Dagenham’ Cast

 

This is interview number 3 in our series of Cast interviews from Springers AOD ‘Made in Dagenham’

Introducing  Gareth Locke as Mr Tooley

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TL:                    Gareth, can you tell us something about your part in Made in Dagenham?

Gareth:            Mr Tooley is Ford Management. He is an American who is brought in to crack the strike. He’s very tough, very sexist, quite misogynistic and a big larger than life character.

TL:                    So what attracted you to such a Character?

Gareth:             I just love playing baddies. They have better songs, they have more fun and better clothes.

TL:                    So why why should people see it?

Gareth:             It’s absolutely a brilliant show, so funny, We have a cracking cast with some powerful singers.  Particularly Amy who is playing Rita.  She’s stunning and if you like working class humour– then it’s your kind of comedy and you will love it.

TL:                    How does it compare to other popular musicals?

Gareth:             It’s a modern musical with a fabulous score, it has really good songs and the script is great with spot on comedic timing. It all very heart warming and part of our history too, not just British history but women’s history. I Love it!

TL:                    What in your opinion, is the ‘Best Bit’ so far?

Gareth:             That’s really difficult. I must admit the singing in general is good with such a strong cast of singers even the chorus are really strong for this show.

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Interview with Springers ‘Made in Dagenham’ Cast

This is our second interview is with the Springers AOD  “Made in Dagenham” cast

Introducing  Olivia Pearson – Lisa Hopkins

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TL:                    Hi Olivia, Can you tell us a little bit about the Character you are playing in   Made In Dagenham?

Olivia:               My Character is not keen on her husband and the way he treats the Dagenham workers and allies herself with the solidarity of the girls.   She gives Rita the confidence to stand up for her beliefs. This is a very different character from the usual parts I play and its very strange not to have a singing part.

TL:                    What attracted you to the story and to want to get involved in this Production?

Olivia:               This is such a topical subject right now – it’s a true story based locally in Dagenham about how ordinary people fight for their rights against a large company.

TL:                    Why should people come and see Made In Dagenham

Olivia:               It has great music and its very funny. But its right on the mark with the topical news stories of today about equal pay and the gender gap.

TL:                    What are you enjoying most about the show at the moment?

Olivia:               The political side is very tongue in cheek taking the mickey out of the USA so there are lots of comedy moments in it and for me, the best part of the show I have seen so far is the Musical number with Harold Wilson in the cabinet

 

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Interviews with Springers ‘Made in Dagenham’s’ cast

Here is the first of our interviews with the Springers AOD “Made in Dagenham” Cast:

Introducing  Deborah Anderson – Beryl

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TL:                         Hi Deborah, Can you tell me a bit about Beryl?

Deborah:             She quite down to earth shall we say, a bit rough but very protective of Rita but she is the one who is up for a fight and she swears a lot. I’ve had to learn a whole new set of vocabulary which I’ve never used before in my life!

TL:                          How do you think it Compares to other musicals

Deborah:             I like a lot of the women’s harmonies,  it’s a bit like ‘Bad Girls – the Musical’ which I’ve been in before because it’s got a similar feel musically. It’s not your traditional Oklahoma by any means, it’s an ensemble piece which is really nice with so many characters and lots of big chorus numbers.

TL:                          So, what attracted you to being in the show?

Deborah:             I went to see it and loved it and then when I knew we were doing it, I really wanted to play Beryl. Basically, because I played the Vicars wife in the last show we did and this is completely different. I just thought what a great show with a chance to move about a bit but not too much and I like the character.

TL:                          What’s the best part of the show so far?

Deborah:             I love the music rehearsals because I love learning the harmonies and I’ve never seen so many men in a springers show in a line – and that’s great!


 

The show runs from 13th – 16th June at the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford.  http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/ theatres

 

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Is Stage Fright a Good or Bad Thing?

Is Stage Fright a good or bad thing?

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Being nervous backstage before a performance of any kind isn’t unusual. A lot of people face some sort of anxiety whether they are ‘seasoned pro’s’ or relatively new to the performance game.  Stage Fright as it’s casually referred to, can be caused by many different things – maybe something that happened in rehearsal that haunts you in case it happens on stage during a performance, pressure to deliver a particular character or routine or just hoping you memory is up to remembering everything and concentrating for 2 and a half hours.  I certainly have had dreams about forgetting lines and dance numbers on many occasions. And since once losing my voice during a run and opening my mouth to barely or little sound coming out – that is also now a recurring worry.

Stage Fright can be obvious in some performers backstage: rapid breathing, trembling, sweaty hands or it can be much more subtle – a dry mouth, a racing pulse or the need for solitude.  Some performers have rituals which they must complete before stepping on stage. I knew a gentlemen, who did three tours backstage checking every prop and costume he used before the show and repeating everything three times like a mantra. Some wear lucky underwear and some have to eat or drink certain foods.

Having stage fright isn’t necessary a bad thing as it can help the adrenalin needed to perform and doesn’t mean you are a bad actor or dancer but it can put added stress onto individuals and if takes some of the pleasure out of being in a show then that’s a shame.

I strongly believe that everyone should feel a little nervous before a performance because that drives the energy needed and certainly the adrenalin buzz is a natural high all its own. However, if you are rooted to the spot with fear, nauseous or overly anxious before a show then perhaps either consider taking some natural herbal remedies or seek some help from a professional or counsellor. Performing is a joy all its own and the pleasure of hearing an audience applaud or laugh is usually worth any minor worries before the show.

How does Stage Fright affect you?

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