Saturday, 25 July 2015

CD Review: Made in Dagenham (Original London Cast Recording 2015)

“And still we're only dreaming for change, change, change..."

Any semi-regular reader will know the love I had for the late lamented musical of Made in Dagenham so my pleasure at a live cast recording being released was boundless indeed as I always thought that David Arnold’s score was one of the more under-rated parts of the production. And it is so nice to have this kind of full reminder of a much-beloved show although I have to say the first couple of times I listened to this soundtrack, I was still too filled with sadness at its early closing.

But now I’m fully in the appreciating stage and there’s lots to love here. This recording really emphasises the female voice(s) and picks out the sophistication of much of the harmony that wasn’t always immediately apparent at the Adelphi. The spit-wielding mothers of ‘Busy Woman’, the wary onlookers of ‘Storm Clouds’, the weary strikers of ‘We Nearly Had It All’, the depth of the female ensemble just sounds like a dream.

And the writing is really clever at times too. The swinging pop of early factory number ‘This Is What We Want’ starts off as a right larf (and real credit should go to Sophie Isaacs) but Richard Thomas’ lyrics soon sneaks in the agenda for social change that lies of the heart of their discontent. And the epic scope of Act 1 closer ‘Everybody Out’ is a masterclass in pulling together narrative and musical themes together and building them to a rocking climax.

I’m not blind to the weaknesses in the show though and some of them are exposed in this recording. The vaudevillian turn from Mark Hadfield’s Harold Wilson feels even odder here, a left-field choice that doesn’t always pay off, and I still don’t get ‘This Is America’, starting the second act off most randomly. And much as I love Sophie-Louise Dann, there’s something about the wrangling of words in ‘Ideal World’ that never feels quite natural, to elevate it to the true showstopper it, and she, deserves to be.

Still, this cast recording serves a great reminder of a good show, will make a strong addition to any musical theatre lover’s collection, and will hopefully speed along the first fringe revival at either the Union or the Landor.


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