Atlantic Ladies - the musical: New play will immortalise Shropshire heroines

They've conquered the Atlantic – and now their story is moving to the stage.

The Atlantic Ladies have had their remarkable story made into a musical play which will take to the stage later this month
The Atlantic Ladies have had their remarkable story made into a musical play which will take to the stage later this month

A brand new musical play about Shropshire’s famous sea-going heroines is about to be performed.

The Atlantic Ladies hit the national headlines in February when they completed a record-breaking row right across the ocean from The Canaries to the Caribbean.

Diane Carrington from Pontesbury, Sharon Magrath of Bayston Hill and Elaine Theaker from Wales completed the voyage in 60 days – and became the oldest women ever to do so.

Their progress in their rowing boat Poppy was closely followed by playwright and broadcaster Chris Eldon Lee, whose play called The Atlantic Ladies is now deep into rehearsal.

The show will debut in Shrewsbury later this month.

Real Atlantic Ladies Sharon Magrath (left) and Di Carrington (right) with actors Christina Cubbin, Sally Tonge and Jo Cox.

Poppy’s captain Di Carrington, who was 62 when she completed the challenge, says the cast and crew met before the race began.

“The actors playing our parts got to know us before we left and then followed our journey on the internet; sharing our highs and lows," she said.

"Chris interviewed us extensively on our return and really dug deep into our stories. Sharon and I have been going to rehearsals; helping the cast make the play as authentic as possible.

"On Sunday we were guiding them through the very moving moment when we nearly didn’t make it. It is so powerful, both us were getting goosebumps. At other times the play has left us helpless with laughter."

The Atlantic Ladies cross the finishing line

The play came about as a result of a casual conversation on Boxing Day 2016.

“I met Di at a party”, said Chris who has written and directed the play.

"She told about her plans. Apparently, I raised an eyebrow and promised to write a play – if they succeeded.

"It’s been a heck of a challenge but it’s such a remarkable story it translates on to the stage really well. The climax is quite frightening really. But, as you might imagine, I couldn’t resist the funny side of it all.”

Like the trip, the recreation of the Atlantic Ocean on stage has caused a few logistical problems. But all will be revealed on opening night with the aid of four buckets, two dolphins and a step ladder.

Atlantic Ladies premieres at The Wightman Theatre in Shrewsbury Square from September 26-29 before moving on to Abergavenny.

It will return to Shropshire to be performed at Market Drayton Festival Centre on October 4 and the Wellington Festival on October 5.

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