Thatcher the Musical, the first full-length musical inspired by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, caused a media storm when it premiered in February 2006, running for five performances only, at Warwick Arts Centre (See News, 6 Jan 2006). It’s sure to cause a similar furore when it kicks off a six-week regional tour this autumn, launching on 3 October 2006 at The Lowry in Manchester before continuing to five further venues, including a return to Warwick.

In the production from all-female touring troupe Foursight Theatre, a cast of ten 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.

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

Thatcher the Musical takes a much different stance, according to Foursight’s Naomi Cooke: “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."

Following Manchester, Thatcher the Musical visits Oxford, Poole, Canterbury, Warwick and Leeds, where the tour concludes on 18 November 2006.

- by Terri Paddock