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WEST END MUSICAL FOR HAVERING’S GEMMA

January 19, 2015

Some years ago I remember driving home listening to the radio and crying with laughter.

The reason was a well presented radio story about striking seamstress workers outside Ford Motor Co’s works in Dagenham demonstrating for pay parity.

Stage set for the Adelphi Theare. Pic Manuel Harlan

Stage set for the Adelphi Theare. Pic Manuel Harlan

The subject was a serious matter as women were paid a lot less than men, and a demonstration banner on a giant sheet bore the legend WE WANT SEX EQUALITY in bright paint.

The trouble was a passing gust of wind filled the banner and distorted the message by obscuring the EQUALITY part.

Not surprisingly the confusion caused by shocked drivers on the very busy A13 was chaotic, and I will leave you to work out why, but it certainly did the job.

Ford caved in quickly as their reputation as a workplace was well guarded and they began a mini revolution when the ladies got what they wanted – more money.

Richard Bean

Richard Bean

This was in 1968 and playwright Richard Bean found it so funny, he penned the play.

After a good few years hawking it round, and making a film, the first stage performance of the musical was in November last year with music by David Arnold and lyrics by Richard Thomas.

It stars ‘Bond girl’ Gemma Alderton as Rita O’Grady who led the strike, and it has turned out to be a superb vector for one of Havering’s finest young actresses, Gamma Salter.

Havering favourite Gemma Salter

Havering favourite Gemma Salter

Gemma has worked her way through the dramatic Societies of Havering including the Queen’s Theatre, and won a role in the stage play as well as understudy to the other Gemma.

If ever there was a recognition of talent, then this is it.

Gemma Salter worked our heart out in Havering, and won a place at the  famous Italia Conte school and is now where she should be, on London’s West End stage.

The show has received tremendous critical acclamation and as understudy, our Gemma takes on the lead of Rita O’Grady for three nights this month Monday January 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28.

Gemma Alderton as Rita O'Grady with some of the Ford workers at the launch of the show. Pic courtesy BBC

Gemma Alderton as Rita O’Grady with some of the Ford workers at the launch of the show. Pic courtesy BBC

The show is on at the Adelphi theatre, in the Strand, and a must-see as one of those nights when you see a star of the future making the stage her own.

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