Based on the 2010 film of the same name, Made in Dagenham is drawn from the real-life 1968 sewing machinists strike at the Ford factory in Dagenham, Essex. This strike was influential in the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1970. The musical focuses on the leader of the strike, Rita O’Grady, as she encourages the women of the Ford factory to walk out after they are re-classified as unskilled workers, while their male counterparts see their wages increase. Featuring a rousing score and a choice of good character roles, Made in Dagenham offers parts for all ages.
All the age suggestions are just that – suggestions. Please don’t let them put you off!
Ford Factory Workers
Rita: (30s) A factory worker from Dagenham, Rita is a devoted wife and mother of two school children, with a strong sense of right and wrong. She works as a machinist at the local Ford factory. Although not a naturally a leader at the beginning, after Connie dies she takes it upon herself to put things right and she shows herself to be a strong woman who leads the fight for equal pay. Her big songs include ‘Busy Woman’ , ‘We nearly had it all’ and ‘Stand up.’
Eddie: (30s) From Dagenham, he is the husband of Rita. He works at the factory as an unskilled worker and is ‘one of the lads.’ As the man of the house and ‘one of the lads’, he expects to be looked after by ‘the wife’. However, he tries really hard to support Rita and the striking women by looking after the kids, cooking, cleaning and washing – not very successfully, but he does his best. In an emotional scene, Rita finds the letter he has written saying he is leaving her which leads to one of the most sincere and heartfelt songs of the show, ‘The Letter’. This needs an innocent, natural character and voice.
Beryl: (30s-40s) Rita’s friend from Dagenham, she is outspoken and likes to talk about sex a lot! Uses strong language naturally.
Connie: (50s) She is the shop steward who has represented the girls in the factory for many years and previously fought through the ‘grievance procedure’, so is a great leader and public speaker. She is the one who convinces Rita to stand up for what is right and fight for equal pay. During the show she is diagnosed with cancer and passes away leaving a speech she wrote for Rita to read at the TUC hearing. She also had a fling with Monty approximately 10 years earlier but didn’t love him despite him asking her to marry him. Sings ‘Same old story’.
Sandra: (20s) From Dagenham and part of Rita’s ‘group’, she is one of the younger factory workers – and uses her youthfulness and good looks to get her places. She is very forward and will go where the money takes her even when it is against the cause they are fighting for. Sandra has a very powerful singing voice and needs to be able to ‘belt’ high notes especially in ‘Everybody out’.
Clare: (20s) One of Rita’s ‘group’ from Dagenham. Very ditsy and struggles describing what she means and getting her point across which the others make fun of in her song ‘Wossaname’.
Cass: (34) She is from Dagenham and is part of Rita’s ‘group’. She is very ambitious and wants to become a flight attendant.
Sid & Bill: (40s-50s) Union Shop Stewards from Dagenham, these two are not particularly useful, make a lot of sexist jokes and don’t understand why the woman are going on strike.
Barry: (17-20) A young apprentice toolmaker from Dagenham and a friend of Eddie. Good-looking, naïve and easily embarrassed. He is always hastled by the women who want to ‘have’ him.
Stan: (25-35) From Dagenham and is a friend of Eddie.
Monty: (50s) He is a NUVB Convener who represents andfights for the women. He has a heart of gold and only means well. He and Connie had a fling 10 years ago and he asked her to marry him but she didn’t love him, so said no. He hasn’t stopped loving her. Not a big singing part but has a lot of dialogue and some significant scenes.
Ford Factory Management
Mr Hopkins: (40-50) Director of Ford Dagenham. Well educated, paid and dressed. He is very pleased with himself and his life. He has a wife, Lisa, and a son who is at school with Graham. This is not a large singing role.
Ron Macer: (40s-50s) Production Manager
Greg Hubble:(40s-50s) Personnel Director – full of ‘HR-speak’.
Mr Tooley: (40-55) A loud, obnoxious Ford US Executive. He’s not a nice guy, objectifies women and sings ‘This is America’.
Harold Wilson: (Age 52) From Huddersfield, the Labour Prime Minister of the time. The country seems to always be on strike and held to ransom by the TUC and he is struggling to find the answers. As chauvinistic as the time would suggest and slightly clueless. His main song is ‘Always a problem’.
Barbara Castle: (Age 58) Minister of Transport from Chesterfield. She is a very strong woman in a mans role and has fiery orange hair. She sings ‘In an ideal world’. Needs to have a strong voice and preferably a Yorkshire accent.
Lisa Hopkins: (30s) Trophy wife to Mr Hopkins. She is very educated and wasting her time being a housewife, as she discovers through the show. She always wears the latest designer fashion and lends her red beber dress to Rita for her final speech. After finding it happening to her son, she starts a petition to stop caning in her son’s school – where she meets Rita. She supports the women’s fight despite being married to the man trying to stop it. An elegant and well spoken lady.
Graham: (8-10) Son of Rita and Eddie. He has a scholarship to the posh school and gets caned by Mr Buckton.
Sharon: (11-14) Daughter of Rita and Eddie. Elder of the two who always does her homework – and Grahams! Wants to be a doctor when she is older and only has pink in her wardrobe.
Buddy Cortina: (20+) A model and singer hired to do a cheesy advert for the new Cortina. Needs to be a strong singer who can dance. Sings ‘Cortina’.
Mr Buckton: (50s) Teacher who believes in corporal punishment and caning. Very smug, intimidating and condescending.
Chubby Chuff: (50s) Club comedian who tells mother-in-law and sexist anti-women jokes. Think Bernard Manning
Club singer: (40s-50s) Not a good singer!
Three Civil Servants: (20+) Aides to PM and possibly double as bodyguards for ‘This is America’. Comic roles.
Adams: Bodyguard for Mr Tooley. Should look cool in a suit!
Press reporters, photographers, factory workers, show girls, body guards, hotel workers, etc.
To register your interest in auditioning, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.