Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill extending the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States a week before the pact was due to expire. Both houses of the Russian parliament voted unanimously Wednesday to extend the New START treaty for five years. Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden had discussed the nuclear accord a day earlier, and the Kremlin said they agreed to complete the necessary extension procedures in the next few days. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers had to ratify the move before Putin could sign off on Friday.
View Comments I’m sure, not least to be part of a show with such a powerful message not just for 1968 but also now. Absolutely. Here’s a show about women striking for equal pay in London in 1968 and the same issues are still being raised today! There are still women in many walks of life who do tend to get paid less than men. Management may say they don’t but women ask around and then find out that they are. And you’ve gotten to watch a musical theater newbie come to our attention in the form of Gemma [Arterton]. Yes, and that has been such a pleasure. Gemma is so down-to-earth and funny and modest but also very strong and direct in the part—and she has a lovely voice. The thing about Gemma is she has so many qualities! She must also be one of the most beautiful women that I have ever seen in my life. Do you remember the actual incident at the Ford Motor plant 48 years ago? Very much so. There was a huge furor at the time because there were people, actually, who didn’t quite know which side to be on. They thought it was terrible that women were coming out on strike and felt that women should never have equal pay and shouldn’t expect to have it. Do you have a favorite song in the show? My absolute favorite is one right at the end called “Stand Up,” which is when Rita is giving her speech in front of the trade union and she talks about standing up and facing it when people are being horrible to you. The message of the song has to do with not running away when you’re confronted with something that hasn’t felt fair: it’s very moving and also sort of stirring. How would you describe the show in synopsis? It’s an inspiring story for all women everywhere. And frankly, not just the women! Made in Dagenham is something else again, though, at least for you. It is! I’ve never played a factory worker and usually in fact play someone posh. I got a call one Tuesday and was told they want you to go in on Wednesday evening and you have to learn a song by then, so I went and sang it for them in front of a team of 11 or 12 people so it was all rather frightening. I was stunned to get it but also thrilled, of course. What is it like to be acting around the corner from your husband [actor Julian Glover], who is starring in The Scottsboro Boys? It has been great. I usually get into town slightly earlier than Julian but his management gives him a car to take him home because he’s so old [laughs] so I can join him for that. [Glover will be 80 in March.] Is it a challenge vocally? I have one solo which is a wonderful number pretty near the end of the first act which really is the moment in the show that makes Rita [the leading character, played by Gemma Arterton] into a political animal. It’s a lovely, lovely song that very much requires a chest voice, so I’ve worked quite hard at that. And I spent time working with a dialect coach to get the Essex accent right! Good lord! Tell us about Connie, the character you play. Connie’s the shop steward, but they weren’t quite sure which way to go with her at the start—how old to make her, whether she should be one of the girls or slightly apart because she’s a bit older. But I love what she has become, which is this very political animal who believes intensely in the rights of women and who has never married and in fact says that she married the Labour Party: she lives for her beliefs. Geraldine James played your role in the film. Has it been difficult dealing with celluloid forbears? Well, this Connie is very different from Geraldine’s, for at least one reason that I probably shouldn’t reveal here. But also Geraldine’s part had a husband who committed suicide whereas mine was never married. I have to say I do think the show may be better than the film in that it’s got many more of the actual factory scenes, so you see the women at work and you see what they have to put up with. Does this not make you want to find a show the two of you can do together? [Laughs.] We’re always being asked, but I think it’s better to keep [work] separate. People may be surprised to see you doing a big West End musical but they shouldn’t be, should they? The thing is, my very first job was a musical—A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in its London debut in 1963. I was straight out of RADA and was hired as an understudy, and then the girl playing Philia turned up at rehearsal and for some reason [director] George Abbott didn’t take to her. So the upshot was that I was put into the role when I was only 18! That must have been amazing. Oh, it was—to be in a room with Mr. Abbott and to meet Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince; they were at rehearsals all the time. I then did Forum again, in 2004 at the National Theatre, directed by Edward Hall, and that time around I got to play Domina, so there I was playing an old bag [laughs]. I played Kate in Kiss Me, Kate when I was at the Bristol Old Vic and did a rock opera called Subject to Fits for the Royal Shakespeare Company, so I have done musicals! You might not expect to find the distinguished stage veteran Isla Blair among the able cast of Made in Dagenham, the musical at the Adelphi Theatre based on the 2010 film about the fight for women’s rights at a Ford Motor Co. plant in Dagenham, east London, in 1968. The elegant Blair is perhaps better-known of late for her stage work in such non-musicals as The Lyons and The History Boys and for such films as Johnny English Reborn and Valmont. But in fact Blair’s singing skills date back to her first-ever professional appearance, as she reminded Broadway.com in a wide-ranging, ever-engaging chat.