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Havering Music Makers share true stories of the East End Matchgirls' strike at Grays theatre

PUBLISHED: 15:00 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:17 27 January 2020

Louise Hatchard Dougherty, Maya Bryan, Sam Knight, Helen Pree in the Havering Music Makers' musical The Matchgirls. Picture: Louise Ford

Louise Hatchard Dougherty, Maya Bryan, Sam Knight, Helen Pree in the Havering Music Makers' musical The Matchgirls. Picture: Louise Ford

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A Havering theatre group will soon be showcasing the true stories of factory workers' fight for justice in the Victorian East End at a Grays theatre.

Charlee Randall plays the lead role of Kate in Havering Music Makers' musical The Matchgirls. Picture: Louise FordCharlee Randall plays the lead role of Kate in Havering Music Makers' musical The Matchgirls. Picture: Louise Ford

Havering Music Makers will be heading to the Thameside Theatre for the first time in the group's 44-year history.

The actors will be bringing some local history with them in the form of the musical, The Matchgirls.

Written by Bill Owen and Tony Russell, the musical tells the story of the London matchgirls' stike of 1888.

It focuses on the plight of the women and girls who worked in appalling conditions in Bryant & May's match factory in Bow, Tower Hamlets at the end of the 19th century.

Louise Hatchard Dougherty, Maya Bryan, Sam Knight, Helen Pree from the Havering Music Makers. Picture: Louise FordLouise Hatchard Dougherty, Maya Bryan, Sam Knight, Helen Pree from the Havering Music Makers. Picture: Louise Ford

Sue Howlett, chairwoman of Havering Music Makers, said: "The matchgirls' strike was the first by unorganised workers to gain national publicity and inspired the formation of unions all over the country.

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"The women and men in the musical are just regular East Enders, trying to make ends meet, but they're based on remarkable people who made history and changed the face of workers' rights."

The show hopes to capture the energy and spirit of the remarkable women as they battled the terrible disease phossy jaw, caused by the cheap phosphorous they were forced to work with.

The characters' courage shines through as they take on the company by going on strike to protest against the poor conditions and the pittance they earn for working 16-hour days.

Charlee Randell takes on the lead role of Kate, a factory worker who wants to reform the factory.

She is joined on stage by Louise Hatchard Dougherty, Martin Lovell, Maya Bryan, Sam Knight, Helen Pree and Sharon Sims.

Sue added: "Despite having a serious story at its heart, The Matchgirls is also a cheeky, funny and heartwarming musical about friendships, relationships and life. It's sure to entertain."

The Matchgirls is showing at the Thameside Theatre in Orsett Road from Thursday, February 13 to Saturday, February 15 at 7.30pm with a matinee performance at 2.30pm on February 15.

Visit thameside.ticketsolve.com or call the theatre's box office on 0345 300 5264 for tickets.

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