Singing WAGs step onto the stage
Real footballers' wives and girlfriends put their lives under the spotlight in a new musical
Paul Bignell is an Assistant News Editor at The Independent. He has previously been the acting News Editor of the i Paper, a home news reporter for The Independent for one year and a reporter for the Independent on Sunday for six years.
Sunday 03 June 2012
You would think they had enough drama in their lives, what with the cars, the cash and the paparazzi. But from tomorrow, the WAGs are taking to the stage to perform a musical rendition of life as a footballer's plus one. Yes, it's WAG! The Musical.
Jessica Lawlor is belting out a hearty number when The Independent on Sunday drops in on rehearsals. She's no Joan Sutherland, but she is engaged to Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland. And to be fair, the lyrics are rather good: "I really have a heart, let that be known. / I once sponsored an elephant, in Sierra Leone... or was it a child?"
We're in a studio basement in east London. Hardly glamorous, but then, they're not doing it for the glitz – they've got plenty of that already. "I want to do something for myself. I want to achieve things," Lawlor says. "I don't feel that I'm just a WAG and that I'm someone who sits at home and goes on Net-a-porter all day. It's not enough and it's not how I want to live." In the show, Jessica plays WAG Victoria, whom she describes as "over-the-top and bitchy". But this is not a reflection of real life, she insists. "[WAGs] are a massive stereotype that the media created," she says. "A lot of them had careers before they met their husbands. Some of them must have talent!"
WAG is an acronym for Wives and Girlfriends and entered common parlance during the 2006 World Cup.
The musical has been created by Karen Struel-White, 50, a theatrical producer whose father, Malcolm Struel, was chairman of Swansea FC in the 1970s. Lawlor has no previous experience of the stage, though her co-star, Pippa Fulton, has a degree in musical theatre and was a contestant on the BBC's Fame Academy. She's going out with Brentford striker Clayton Donaldson. Behind the scenes, Heather Swan, who divorced former Cardiff City player Michael Chopra, is on hand as technical director.
Why does Lawlor think WAGs stick together? "Being in the same industry, you understand that your husband or your boyfriend plays away a lot," she says. She means geographically, of course. "You all become friends, and your kids go to the same schools."
Struel-White told a newspaper: "They're WAGs but they're also talented ladies. We had a full audition back in January and we did have hundreds of would-be actresses. But Jessica and Pippa, who are official WAGs, were fantastic and it was an easy task to give them the roles they have got."
Though many people may not have heard of the show's "official WAGs", Lawlor is bona fide, as her white Bentley convertible confirms. And yet, she insists, she is no different from the average 26-year-old. "I hear people say 'she's so normal' and I'm thinking – 'what do you expect me to be like?'"
'WAG! The Musical' is at Ye Olde Rose & Crown pub, Walthamstow, to 23 June
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