Margaret Thatcher gets a roasting in Billy Elliot: in “Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher”, the cast, dressed in Iron Lady drag and wielding Spitting Image-style puppets, sing to the former Prime Minister, “We all celebrate today/ Cos it’s one day closer to your death” (See The Goss, 12 May 2005).

Not content with a single scene, though, the team at all-female touring company Foursight Theatre were determined to give the Baroness her very own full-length musical. The aptly named Thatcher the Musical will premiere on 7 February 2006 at Warwick Arts Centre, where it will run for five performances only before embarking on a national tour in the autumn.

A cast of ten women will alternate in playing Thatcher and myriad other roles as they “romp through the life and times of the Iron Lady and her Government - exploding the political and the personal - revealing the contents of the most famous handbag in history …. From the miners’ strike to the Falklands War, from the Brighton bomb to the knife in the back; this much anticipated show digs deep to uncover the impact the UK’s first female Prime Minister had on Britain and the world.”

The show’s songs, written by Jill Dowse and arranged by Mary Keith, include “The Cabinet Shuffle”, “The Tory Blues”, “The Grocer’s Daughter” and “The Thatcher Anthem”. The cast for Thatcher the Musical are: Julie Baker, Ali Belbin, Kath Burlinson, Lisa Harrison, Mary Keith, Lorna Laidlaw, Frances Land, Toni Midlane, Sarah Thom and Lucy Tuck. The production is directed by Naomi Cooke and Deb Barnard and designed by Rob Hill with costumes by Sue Hall and sound by Duncan Chave.

According to Foursight’s Naomi Cooke and Warwick Arts Centre artistic director Alan Rivett agree: “The show neither denigrates nor glorifies, rather it presents Maggie herself looking back over her meteoric rise from grocer's daughter to being the most powerful woman of her day. What would Maggie tell us now, and how does this inform our understanding of the political machine and leadership today? We hope people of all political persuasions will come and see the show, as it will remind us of a fascinating and controversial period in our political history which continues to resonate in our lives today."

Full tour dates for Thatcher the Musical have not yet been confirmed.

- by Terri Paddock