YORK Central MP Rachael Maskell and West End musical theatre star Scott Garnham, from Malton, popped along to Sunday’s rehearsal run of Made In Dagenham.
The session was open to York Residents Festival visitors as the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company prepared for their fundraising musical production in aid of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.
Presented by the JoRo’s in-house company, Made In Dagenham tells the true story of the beginning of the equal pay for women movement, focusing on the Ford strike at Dagenham in the 1960s.
The choice of show could not be more relevant because the York performances coincide with the 50th anniversary of the passing of Barbara Castle’s Equal Pay Act of 1970.
The subject of equal pay and discrimination is close to Rachael Maskell’s heart, as the Labour MP spent many years as a union rep campaigning for equal rights. Re-elected at the December 12 General Election, she has been appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights.
Addressing the company on the Rowntree Theatre stage, Ms Maskell said: “This is an inspirational story you are telling, and it remains a story of women at work today. If we don’t speak out, how do we expect things to change?”
She described the women of Dagenham as “sparky women who would not take no for an answer”, and urged the JoRo company to “go out there and keep fighting”.
Scott Garnham, who has performed many times on the Rowntree Theatre stage, appeared in the original London production of Made in Dagenham in the role of Buddy Cortina.
In York last week for Friday’s tribute show The Best Of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons at the Grand Opera House, on Sunday Scott said: “To come and support this local community theatre is really important to me. I learned a lot of my stagecraft here in this building.
“The venue is a real hub for performers of all ages and backgrounds, and theatre is a very unifying experience. I’m so pleased that the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company have chosen to do this show as their annual fundraiser. It’s the story of a truly inspirational group of women, many of whom I had the great pleasure to meet.”
Despite its gritty subject matter, Made In Dagenham is described as a heart-warming story, full of humour, coupled with wonderful music. Although the show is not suitable for young children, on account of “some very strong language”, the company hopes to introduce a wide new audience to the sparky women of Dagenham.
Next week’s production runs from February 5 to 8 at 7.30pm nightly plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Tickets are available on 01904 501935, at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or in person from the Haxby Road theatre’s box office.