This weekend, Jim Smith undertook the gruelling task of watching his youngest child perform in yet another sixth form musical that for some reason features spirited cockney urchins. She plays a spunky East End vagabond - again.
‘The second I see her bounding on stage, her ponytail pinned under a newsboy cap and her face streaked with brown eyeshadow, I know it’s going to be a long night,’ Jim says. ‘It wouldn’t bother me that much, but most of the musicals aren’t even set in Victorian London.’
Why an urchin? Jim’s daughter is, regrettably, a triple A: A cup, Alto and Androgenous. Predatory theatre directors already face the challenge of wrestling unenthusiastic sixteen-year-old boys into oversized suit jackets so they can mumble their way through the lead roles. With no boys to spare, the mantle of the juvenile rapscallion falls on female shoulders.
‘If I have to see that tattered brown jacket again I’ll scream,’ Smith’s wife says, wringing the photocopied playbill between her hands. ‘I swear every role she plays is the same: it’s all “spare a penny” this and “pick a pocket,” that. I actually feel relief when she dies at the end.’