A Musical in 2 Acts. Book by Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus. Music and lyrics by Kath Gotts. Based on the popular ITV1 prison drama series, Bad Girls,
Garrick Theatre, London. Previews from 16th August, 2007. Opened 12th September 2007; Closed 17th November, 2007.
Bad Girls – The Musical takes as its starting point the original core characters from the first three series of Bad Girls on TV. Set in the fictional HMP Larkhall, it’s the story of new idealistic Wing Governor Helen Stewart and her battles with the entrenched old guard of Officer Jim Fenner and his sidekick Sylvia Hollamby. It also follows the love story that develops between Helen and charismatic inmate Nikki Wade. Other featured characters include Shell Dockley and her runner Denny Blood, old-timer Noreen Biggs, The Two Julies and the ultimate Top Dog, King-of-Gangland’s missus, Yvonne Atkins.
A tragic death on the wing – in which Jim Fenner is implicated – leads to an angry protest from the women and forces Helen and Nikki to their opposite sides of the bars. But when it’s clear that Helen stands to lose her job over Jim Fenner’s misdeeds, the race is on for the women to nail Jim once and for all.
The Number One likes a quiet life and has always felt that the “old boys network” is the best way of sorting things out to his satisfaction. The appointment of Helen Stewart as Wing Governor has been imposed upon him and grudgingly accepted. But it wouldn’t take much briefing against her for him to recommend her swift removal from Larkhall.
- I Shouldn't Be Here
- Guardian Angel
- One Moment
- Life of Grime
- A List
- The Key
- That's the Way It Is
- Freedom Road
- The Future Is Bright
- Every Night
- All Banged Up
- The Baddest & the Best
- First Lady
- Baddest & the Best Reprise
- This Is My Life
Yvonne’s as tough as nails; a working-class girl made rich through gangland boss Charlie’s criminal gains. She’s intimidating, ruthless and glamorous. When she arrives at Larkhall she makes a huge impression on the other women and wastes no time in taking over the Top Dog position from Shell Dockley. She’s also warm and generous and a force for good against G-Wing’s bullies – officers and inmates alike.
Most of the inmates on G-Wing look up to Nikki. Before her conviction Nikki used to run a nightclub with her girlfriend. She’s intelligent and street-wise with a strong sense of natural justice because of the injustice she herself has suffered. She’s no one’s fool and she easily sees through the likes of corrupt officer Jim Fenner. But she doesn’t always help her own case by being too quick to fly off the handle.
Despite her tough exterior, Denny’s upbringing has left her desperate for love and attention, making her very easy to manipulate – and that’s something Shell Dockley is expert at doing. Denny is Shell’s “fixer” and not being the sharpest knife in the drawer she’s always willing to do Shell’s bidding without question. One day, however, she’s going to have to find a voice of her own…
Before sentencing Shell to life, the judge presiding over her trial described her as “evil personified”, a tag she never has a problem living up to. Whether it’s taxing another inmate for her drugs stash or the intimidation of a weaker prisoner, Shell displays an equal amount of cunning and ruthlessness to get her own way. She considers herself Jim Fenner’s right-hand woman and trades on the special privileges she gets for “services rendered”.
Justin is a new junior officer, a fresh young puppy dog who really does want to do good, and thinks that Helen is absolutely perfect, not only as Wing Governor, but maybe even something more...
Bursting with integrity and rather shy, Justin is easily teased by the older women prisoners in particular. But as he firmly tells Yvonne, “if you want to screw a screw, you’ve picked the wrong one”.
Recidivist old-timer Noreen regularly gets itchy fingers in the shops and can’t resist the thrill of picking up a few treats. As time’s gone on she’s more at home in prison than anywhere else and she’s been round the system so many times she knows exactly how to play it to her advantage. Noreen loves a “bit of bother” and is always ready to stoke a fight from the sidelines.
As a bible-bashing Christian, Crystal often takes a critical view of her fellow inmates and believes that the prison regime is too soft – especially where drugs are concerned. She can be self-righteous and totally blind to her own self-contradictions and often comical as a result. But at heart she’s a kind and caring person who does believe in standing up for what’s right.
As far as Sylvia is concerned “happiness is door-shaped” and it would make her life a hell of a lot easier if prisoners were just kept locked in their cells 24/7. She admires Jim Fenner immensely, and shares his conviction that the Wing Governor job should have gone to him instead of to Helen Stewart. She is, however, blind to the full extent of Jim’s misdemeanours with the prisoners, and would be genuinely shocked if she knew.
When Rachel arrives at Larkhall as a first time offender she’s scared and isolated and distraught about the fact that her baby has been taken into care. She’s got “victim” written all over her and is easy prey for prison bully Shell Dockley. She naively trusts Jim Fenner to look after her, but soon discovers that his “special attention” isn’t quite the sort of protection she had imagined.
Jim’s a man who likes to run things in prison his own way, rather than by the book, and he’ll use whatever means necessary. He can easily justify his “pastoral” role with prisoners; the women have come on strong to him, he’s got what they need and he’s happy to give it to them. So where’s the harm? His unholy alliance with Shell Dockley keeps him in the picture about what’s happening on the wing as well as providing some “on the job” recreation.
As a graduate ‘fast-tracker’, Helen is held in contempt by old hands such as Fenner and Hollamby who both firmly believe that there is no substitute for experience and “jailcraft”. She’s idealistic and genuinely concerned about the welfare of the inmates in her care, but good intentions aren’t always enough to win the battle. She soon realises the old guard doesn’t play fair and if she’s going to beat them she’ll need friends in low places...
Julie Saunders & Julie Johnston (The Two Julies)
The Julies have taken the same name and styled themselves as a sisterly double act. They’ll always be there for each another and that’s their lifeline for surviving prison. Both are mums, and it was trying to make ends meet for their children that drove them into prostitution in the first place. Julie S has a son, David, whose private education is paid for with the proceeds from her life of crime. They’ve got hearts of gold and will always help a friend in need.