Solidarity at the Mart Theatre!

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Skipton Musical Theatre Company demonstrate the power of teamwork

When groups of likeminded people come together they really can change the world. This is the central message in the uplifting musical Made in Dagenham, as performed by SMTC over this past weekend. And for me the message was broadcast loud and clear from the moment my friends and I walked into this cattle auction mart – come innovative theatre space.

The cast, crew, volunteers and musicians of this very-nearly-100-year-old musical theatre company have a knack of making a very ordinary looking space into a place where magic happens. Once we’d settled into our seats (with hired cushions for extra comfort) and the lights went down we were transported to late 1960’s Barking and the tumultuous affair of industrial unrest at the local Ford manufacturing plant. The true story revolves around a Machinist at the factory, Rita O’Grady (played by Laura Lipscombe) who finds herself leading the charge of female employees demanding to have their skilled work recognised and adequately remunerated. Between Rita’s determination to usher in real change and Laura’s command of the role, the whole machine room came together, drove the narrative forward and drew the audience into the action. As the girls called out “Stand Up!” their wall of sound was met by a crowd more than willing to join in!

As anyone who has ever taken part in a production knows, it takes a whole lot of coordinated effort to pull a show together. Here those in the lead roles were strongly supported by the voices of the chorus. A hilariously coarse Beryl (Karen Collis) was perfectly countered out by Dawn Feather’s shy but sweet Clare, and the tragedy of Connie’s story (played by Chrissee Platt) softened by the comic timing of Gary Holmes as the former PM Harold Wilson. The band were made up of students from the Leeds Conservatoire and lead by the calm hand of Wil Jones, setting off the mood of the show with a well-balanced sound-world of horn led soul. Particularly notable performances were Julie Henderson’s Ideal World and James Willstrop’s perfectly pitched vocal on The Letter.

Very well done to Director Anna Burke for bringing this wonderful musical to life – your Skipton Musical Theatre Company team really have done you proud and given us lovers of musical theatre exactly ‘what we want’!

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