The cast of Made in Dagenham at today's press performance
The cast of Made in Dagenham at today's press performance

Made in Dagenham held its press launch at the Playhouse Theatre today, where five songs from the screen-to-stage musical were performed for the gathered media.

It's premiering at a notoriously difficult time for new British musicals - Stephen Ward, From Here to Eternity and I Can't Sing! have all closed early in recent months - but the company were in bullish mood today.

"We want to put the musical back on the map," said director Rupert Goold, who recently staged American Psycho at the Almeida, where he is artistic director.

Also in attendance today were former female employees of the Ford motor factory in Dagenham, whose strike for equal pay to their male colleagues forms the basis of the story.

Speaking to WhatsOnStage, one of those women, Sheila Douglass, said she "loved" watching the preview of the show and that it "looks much more fun" than the film adaptation, which premiered in 2010.

"We didn't realise at the time we were making history," added Douglass recalling the strike, "it wasn't until the film came out that we started getting all this attention."

Book writer Richard Bean, whose credits include the multi award-winning One Man, Two Guvnors, teased Goold about the number of changes he has made to the script.

"I've written five plays for the Royal Court, where they don't change a word," he said. "And if they do change a word, they write you a letter first."

Made in Dagenham stars Gemma Arterton as Rita O'Grady, who rallies her female colleagues to strike. It's the former Bond girl's first musical theatre role, and she admitted that prior to getting the role she had only sung karaoke in public.

"I come from a musical family, so music has always been a part of my life," Arterton told WhatsOnStage. "I've always wanted to be in a musical, especially an original one. We've got a lot of work to do before October, but I think it's going to be something very special."

Made in Dagenham, which features music from David Arnold and lyrics by Richard Thomas, premieres at the West End's Adelphi Theatre on 5 November 2014 (previews from 9 October).