'Saigon' in the wars over lack of misses

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The Independent Culture
The West End stage musical Miss Saigon has encountered a crisis because the management cannot find any young oriental children for the show, writes David Lister.

The plot requires a tiny child of oriental appearance to play the role of the four-year-old daughter of a Vietnamese woman and an American serviceman.

The show's management has been alarmed to discover that advertisements in London's Chinatown for stage-struck children to star in the show have unnerved the local community.

"We've had little cards printed and handed out in Chinatown, but they think you're pimping their children," said the show's children's casting director, Sam Hunter, yesterday. "There's certainly not a great theatre background in these communities. We've had terrible difficulties. I don't know what we are going to do. We can't cut the child," she said.

Since the show opened in 1989, 40 children from the Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Japanese communities have been used to play the boy. The licensing authorities have ruled that each one may work only 40 days a year and only two days a week.

The show now needs another five children. But despite many searches, it has found only one so far.

Ms Hunter said that the show's producer, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, would not consider closing the show. But he would look at lengthening the amount of time that each child actor was retained in the musical.

Sir Cameron is throwing the theatre open all day on Saturday week to audition suitable children, who should be accompanied by a parent, Ms Hunter said.