Rose Tinted Nostalgia

It must be awful working in a theatre press and marketing office.  “What?” I hear you say, what’s awful about crawling into work at 10, trawling the internet for reviews of the shows you’ve got coming – whilst you update your social media and buy something indispensable of course – then taking two hours for lunch before the afternoon’s spent in a meeting about funding with wine and nibbles.  Well there would be little that was awful about that (so long as the pinot grigio had been chilled correctly) if it were true but, before I get scribbled off of every press list I’m on, I ought to point out that it’s not actually like that.

But it’s not the long hours, the late-nights or having to deal with divas for which they have my sympathy, it’s the fact that their year is totally screwed up.  You see in your world it’s May, right?  High spring is here, the days are long and you’re looking forward to summer and all the pleasure that will bring.

Well whilst you’re pulling on your baggies and waxing down your surfboard – or whatever else it is you do at this time of year – spare a thought for these individuals whose days are filled with the gloom of autumn and winter.  Yes, in theatre marketing departments around the region the days are darkening and the phrase “behind you,” already causes a rash which looks like a bag of Haribo star-mix.  Why?  Well because they’re busy putting out the autumn season brochures.

The first one to land on my desk was from the New Wolsey.  Even by their very high standards it looks like it may be a classic season for them, the standout highlight of which has to be Made in Dagenham.  Running from the 21st of September to the 15th October this smash-hit musical is set in 1968 and tells the story of Rita, a seemingly unremarkable, hard-working mum and wife who puts in shifts at Ford’s Dagenham factory but whose destiny is to make a significant difference to the working lives of millions of British women.  What Rita and her female colleagues object to is the fact that they work long hours sewing car seats and yet earn far less money than the men – and now they’ve had enough.  Despite the resistance of the bosses, her own union and even her husband, Rita leads the women of Ford on a trailblazing battle for equal pay.

And it was a battle too.  It’s easy to forget that less than a working lifetime ago it was legal to discriminate against someone because of their colour, religion, sexual-orientation or gender.  And whilst it seems that there are folks who regard that situation with rose-tinted nostalgia (I’m guessing their profile is generally male, white, Protestant and straight – or repressed) the rights which have shaped our society into the fairer, more just society that it is today, were hard won and the stories of those who had the courage, acumen and fortitude to fight for what was right should be celebrated.

This will be the first production outside of London’s west end and, given the Wolsey’s reputation for producing top-notch musicals, it’s likely to be a sell-out which means, if you fancy going, you’ll have to get your tickets well in advance.  Tickets go on sale on April 30th which means that unless you’re reading this hot off the press the box-office is already open.  Tickets range from £10 – £25 and there will be captioned, signed and audio-described performances.

In an interesting addition the Wolsey is throwing open its stage-doors during the run and giving people the sort of backstage access which even the poorest 1970s comedian could turn into a distasteful double-entendre.  Tickets are £5.

Prior to Made in Dagenham  another musical will be warming up the musical taste-buds from September 12th – 17th.  All or Nothing – The Mod Musical tells the story of The Small Faces and features many of their tunes including Whatcha Gonna Do About It, Itchycoo Park and of course, All Or Nothing.

Elsewhere in the programme Jane Austen fans will doubtless be fanning themselves down with a picture of Colin Firth in anticipation of Pride & Prejudice which runs from 31st October until the 2nd of November.  And demonstrating, if demonstration were required, the Wolsey’s consummate talent for creating a programme which truly does have something for everybody, following that on November 3rd – 5th is  RESULTan evocative examination of football, friendship, masculinity and mental health.’  Will someone please tell The Naked Football Show’s Graham Blackburn it’s on. Cheers.