From Front-Of-House To Onstage – Meet The Made In Dagenham Duo Who Work At Norwich Theatre Royal

Two of our team are swapping front of house for backstage when they perform in Made In Dagenham. Deputy Show Manager Ric Gardner-Collis and Usher Alex Glenn will help bring the show to life from January 28 to February 1 and tell Tim Humphreys more about what is in store.

Tim: So tell us a bit more about your characters in Made in Dagenham.

Alex: Bill is a factory hand working in the upper levels. He works closely with Monty and he is part of the group who are vastly against the women’s strikes. He spends a lot of the first act all the way up to the beginning of the strike really laying into Monty in the beginning in a friendly way but later in a serious way about Monty’s support for women’s fight for equal pay. Towards the end of the first act especially, he gets really insecure about his place in the factory and his livelihood. Bill does start to see the women’s point of view but it is very apparent in the beginning that he is against the women’s cause.

Tim: And tell me about the wonderfully named Cortina Man.

Ric: My character is really out of context to the rest of the piece which is about real people who are just going around their ordinary lives. One of the female characters is propelled into a career of modelling and she gets tempted by the senior management of the factory to be fobbed off for the chance to do some modelling. My character comes in and he is your typical Sixties cheesy car salesman on steroids. He is selling the brand new Cortina Mark 2 to the general public and they are filming the commercial for it in this scene. This character is completely different to the other part I play in the rest of the show which is a factory worker. It is nice to have both characters to play, something a bit gritty and something solely fun.

Tim: And how are the rehearsals going for you at the moment?

Alex: They are going great at the moment.

Ric: I am really enjoying it.

Alex: The vocal harmonies are really coming together; a lot of the songs sound really great.

Ric: This is the first time I have worked with NNOS and comparing it to other experiences I have had in the past, it has been really enjoyable. I feel in the last few weeks particularly, the cast have really come together and gelled.

Alex: Yeah definitely.

Ric: It is a weird situation. You have to suddenly become these characters and people and make brave choices surrounded by people you don’t know too well. I think it may have been those Friday night pub trips that have brought us all together but after that happens, I think you notice the work in the rehearsal room suddenly gets stronger because everyone gets a little bit more freedom to experiment as they feel a bit safer.

Tim: Does the director Chris Cuming help you all bond as a company?

Alex:. One thing Chris is exceptionally good at is getting everyone to gel together very quickly, getting everyone to get on, work together and take chances right from the off.

Ric: And that started straight away. In the audition workshops before anyone was cast, it was very much an ensemble piece where we had to create characters on the spot. We had to make some brave choices and feel a bit vulnerable with each other in the rehearsal room. I feel that is a good starting space because going forwards it allows you to feel a bit freer with some of the decisions you make.

Tim: It sounds like a very topical musical. Though it is set in the Sixties, a lot of the themes seem relevant to what is going on at the moment.

Alex: The fight for equal pay being the main topic of the story, it is still relevant today and the piece is good at showing how far we have come but how much further we have to keep going and how hard we need to fight to achieve these level of equality and fairness ultimately. The whole play looks at equal pay, equal right and respect. A broad term for these themes is respect and this show is a good indicator of where we need to go as a society.

Tim: And it is a great period piece, it really reflects the Sixties.

Alex: Oh one-hundred percent.

Ric: It does. I was going to say the piece is more about the issues of then being reflected now. Iit is the ideas that if you want change to happen then it does start with the individuals and with communities on the small scale. If you look at the political landscape at the moment you can be apathetic to the situation because it seems like one can’t do anything about it as an individual. However, without the attitudes of people thinking they can effect change, then change won’t happen.

Tim: The final question I have to ask you is that you will be swapping working Front of House to going on the stage. How do you both feel about that?

Ric: There is a pressure isn’t there?

Alex: Yeah, because everyone we know will be watching every night.

Ric: You do care what your peers and colleagues think about you so it will be interesting as I haven’t done it before. I know you have and been in that situation.

Alex: Yeah last year for Guys and Dolls.

Ric: Everyone was really supportive of you.

Alex: Everyone was, everyone was really lovely. A lot of people came to see the show which I found really lovely. There were points last year when I was on stage mid-dance and there is this door right at the centre at the back and I would see people sneak out and sit down and watch. They would speak to me next week and say Oh we snuck in and saw you, we loved it!  So yeah, it will be strange again; but fun.

Ric: Yeah, absolutely.

Enjoy a preview of the show below: