The Matchgirls

by  Bill Owen, Tony Russell

Full Length Musical, Drama  /  5m, 13f

Based on fact, this musical tells the story of a strike by the girls in a match factory in 1888, when unions were still groping for recognition and mass withdrawal of labour was an almost unheard-of strategy in industrial relations.

Read more +
License Estimator

Use this tool for cost estimates based on your specific needs.

  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    5m, 13f
  • SubGenre


  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

The match-cutters finally rebel against working conditions in which young girls had their jaws rotted away by phosphorus, and discipline was maintained by a system of crippling fines and sanctions. A grim episode, perhaps, but not many minutes of the play are allowed to pass before the natural ebullience of the traditional Cockney sparrow helps to create sparkling entertainment which warms the heart, yet retains the essential drama of the central theme. The incongruously named "Hope Court" is the setting for much of the play, for it is there the workers live in shabby tenements. Desperation turns Kate, the tenement girl, into a reckless strike-leader, and complicates her courtship with Joe, a docker. Annie Besant, the liberal reformer, champions the strikers' cause and plays a vital part in bringing about their ultimate victory over what was then a callous management.

The Scenes
Act I The cutting-room at the match factory. Hope Court. Beside Gladstone's statue. The Freethought Bookshop. On the way to the House of Commons
Act II Hope Court. The Bookshop. By the river. Outside the Company's Head Office. Charrington's Brewery

Within a permanent basic full-stage set (Hope Court), the other scenes are formed either with simple insets, by traveller curtains or drop cloths, or by making minor alterations to the basic set/

Read more +



8 Classic British Musicals to Perform
by Cathy Thomas
August 5, 2019



  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.



  • Time Period: 19th Century


  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Medium


5m, 13f

The show can be expanded to some extent, although in the original production every member of the company was an individual character, and named. Additional matchgirls can be added more or less at will.

See all +


Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package

16 Piano Conductor Scores
Double Bass
Alto Sax/ Clarinet
Tenor Sax/ Clarinet

Available Services



Bill Owen

Bill Owen

Tony Russell

Tony Russell

Now Playing

Community Experiences