Gemma Arterton leads Dagenham musical

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Gemma Arterton to star in Made In DagenhamGemma Arterton to star in Made In Dagenham (Photo: Alex James)
Gemma Arterton to star in Made In DagenhamGemma Arterton to star in Made In Dagenham (Photo: Alex James)

Gemma Arterton will take the lead role in a new stage adaptation of Made In Dagenham, which is set to open at the Adelphi Theatre this autumn.

Playing from 9 October (press night 5 November), the much-rumoured production will be directed by Rupert Goold and feature a book by One Man, Two Guvnors playwright Richard Bean.

Based on the 1968 strikes that saw female workers at Ford’s Dagenham plant go on strike with the aim of attaining equal pay, Made In Dagenham follows wife and mother Rita O’Grady as she leads her fellow sewing machinists on an inspiring journey that turns into something far bigger that any of them ever imagined.

Returning to the London stage for the second time this year following her acclaimed performance in The Duchess Of Malfi at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Arterton will play Rita, a role made famous by Sally Hawkins in the 2010 film of the same name. While Arterton has made her mark on the capital’s stages in recent years, she is best known for her many film roles, which have included St Trinian’s, Quantum Of Solace and Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters.

The award-winning actress will be joined in the cast by Adrian Der Gregorian, who has previously appeared in West End productions of The Woman In White and La Cage Aux Folles. Der Gregorian will follow in the footsteps of Daniel Mays when he takes on the role of Rita’s husband Eddie in the musical.

Talking about her forthcoming role, Arterton said: “I’m beyond thrilled to be playing Rita O’Grady in Made In Dagenham. It’s an important story that I’m passionate about telling and we intend to tell it with wit, warmth and, of course, a lot of singing and dancing.”

Director Rupert Goold, who is currently enjoying success as the new Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre, spoke about his attachment to the story. “From my first watch of Made In Dagenham I knew it was a piece I wanted to be involved in bringing to the stage,"he explained. "It’s such an engaging, relatable and vital story, and I’m convinced as a musical we can bring even more to it when we mount our production at the Adelphi.”

The touching tale will be brought to life on stage with music by BAFTA and Grammy Award-winning composer David Arnold and lyrics by Jerry Springer The Opera’s Richard Thomas. The show will feature designs by the Olivier Award-winning designer behind The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time Bunny Christie and choreography by His Dark Materials’ Aletta Collins.

Goold promises the production will incorporate “some big ideas [and] brilliant original music” when it opens at the current home of The Bodyguard this autumn. While The Bodyguard’s leading lady Beverley Knight recently revealed she will be leaving the show in May to star in Tony Award-winning musical Memphis at the Shaftesbury Theatre from October, it has not yet been announced what the future holds for the Olivier Award nominated show.

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