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News > School News > FHS perform Made in Dagenham at London's Adelphi Theatre

FHS perform Made in Dagenham at London's Adelphi Theatre

Last Tuesday, pupils from Years 7 to 13 delivered an outstanding performance of Made in Dagenham at the Adelphi Theatre, in the heart of London's West End

Fittingly, the first-ever theatrical performance of the show took place at the very same theatre in 2014. This made the occasion particularly special, as did the fact that it was the School’s first, one-night-only West End performance since Singin’ in the Rain at The Shaftesbury in 2019. This was also the first performance of Made in Dagenham by a school cast in the West End and, remarkably, the only day the girls were able to rehearse in the theatre; all previous rehearsals having taken place in the school hall. The performance attracted an audience of over 500 and there was a true buzz of excitement in the packed auditorium which grew more and more palpable as the night progressed.

Made in Dagenham is a musical based on the 2010 film of the same name, which explores the story of the Ford sewing machinists’ strike of 1968.  In a tenacious struggle for equality, we follow heroine Rita O’Grady and other female workers at Ford’s Dagenham plant as they strike to combat the inequality that becomes apparent when it is announced that the stitching room workers will have their pay grade dropped to unskilled. The plot is based on real-life events which eventually led to the passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970. There were too many highlights of the show to mention, but one particularly memorable moment was when a real-life Ford car, one of many fantastic props sourced (all the way from Yorkshire!) and transformed by our wonderful Art and Facilities Departments, was wheeled on stage for the rollicking musical number Cortina.

Headmistress, Lucy Elphinstone highlighted the poignancy of the choice of Made in Dagenham as this year’s West End performance:

“The story of the Ford women of Dagenham, who fought for their voice to be heard and for equality of pay and opportunity, mirrors the struggle of our school over decades to empower its girls to believe that they have as much right as boys and men to be treated with respect and justice, to be independent and free, to realise their dreams.”

Indeed, encouraging girls to develop the resilience, imagination and confidence to pursue their wildest passions is one of our most distinctive aims as a School, and this is uniquely nurtured by our superb FHS Drama Department.

Iconic performances from leading cast members Sofia Gironi (Year 11) as Rita O’Grady and Cara Vogels (Upper Sixth) as Eddie O’Grady, plus the rest of the cast who truly brought the play to life, illustrated the great adversity that these inspirational women faced on their journey. The immense grit, determination and resilience displayed by these women half a century ago mirrors similar qualities in our own cast and crew, who have worked tirelessly throughout the rehearsal process. Putting on a show whilst still in the midst of a global pandemic has produced some nuanced challenges, yet the girls continued to push on throughout with tireless optimism and enthusiasm.

Alice Hanton, Acting Head of Drama, was absolutely thrilled with the performance:

“The cast had just a handful of hours to familiarise themselves with the professional theatre that they would soon be performing in. They day was fast paced and frantic, full of sound cues and lighting changes. However, despite working at such an intense pace, the atmosphere was one full of laughter and joy (plus a few fraught costumes changes!) All cast members from Year 7 to Year 13 showed tremendous professionalism and were such team players. It was wonderful to welcome such a full audience, especially as COVID has stripped us of so many live performance experiences in recent months. It is hard to choose any standout performances, as each cast member contributed so fantastically, however, mention must go to Sofia Gironi (Year 11) and Cara Vogels (Year 13) who drove the production with such dynamism and creative flair. The audience were moved to tears at moments, which was contrasted with moments of comic relief (made all the funnier with the vocal lilts of the Dagenham drawl). Although the cast and crew are a little weary, we are all feeling bereft now that the show is over. A huge congratulations to all involved!”

Congratulations to all girls, staff (particularly our incredible Drama and Music Departments) and crew involved in overcoming multiple unforeseen obstacles and showing true FHS resilience to produce such a brilliant show, and thank you so much to The Adelphi for allowing us to usurp Back to the Future for 24 hours! It was impossible not to leave the theatre with a spring in your step, and all who attended were in agreement that it is an honour it was to be part of such a vibrant, talented and joyful school community. We look forward to watching our pupils’ promising acting careers continue to flourish in years to come.

Check out our photos of the performance below…



FHS Presents Made in Dagenham (4)

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