Previewed 1 March 2014, Opened 26 March 2014, Closed 10 May 2014 at the London Palladium
The new musical comedy I Can't Sing! in London written by Harry Hill and Steve Brown and co-produced by Mr Simon Cowell.
I Can't Sing! AKA The X Factor Musical is the hilarious new musical - with new specially written songs - that goes behind the microphones and under the judges' desks at the biggest show on earth and reveals the (not necessarily accurate) tale of heartache and laughter which keeps millions of us glued to The X Factor on television, week-after-week. Irreverent, anarchic and yet strangely touching, this musical comedy promises to delight both fans and sceptics of The X Factor in equal measure.
The cast for I Can't Sing! in London features Nigel Harman as 'Simon Cowell', Cynthia Erivo as 'Chenice', Alan Morrissey as 'Max', Ashley Knight as 'Louis' with Victoria Elliott, Simon Bailey, Billy Carter, Simon Lipkin, Joe Speare, Katy Secombe, Charlie Baker, Shaun Smith and Rowen Hawkins. Please note that Nigel Harman will be on holiday from 7 to 27 July 2014. The musical is written by the award-winning comedian Harry Hill with music and lyrics by Steve Brown. This production is directed by Sean Foley with choreography by Kate Prince and set design by Es Devlin.
When this production opened Simon Edge in the Daily Express highlighted that "Harry Hill's knowing tease, directed by the ever-inventive Sean Foley and festooned with visual gags by designer Es Devlin, is smart, funny, foot-tapping and surprisingly hard-hitting beneath its cloak of reverence" adding that "the choreography sparkles with wit... I was uplifted to see fun poked in all the right places in what may seem like a grovel to reality TV but is actually an antidote to its global takeover." In the Times Dominic Maxwell wrote that "even if the tone is fond, the irreverence grows infectious" and "the funny ideas keep on coming, right up to a jaw-dropping airborne ending." Michael Billington in the Guardian thought that while "it seems uneasily pitched between send-up and celebration... Cynthia Erivo is dazzling as Chenice, combining a Cinderella-like charm with formidable lung power." Rod McPhee in the Daily Mirror asked: "With top tunes, brilliant singing and endless ridiculing of some of our most famous faces, will The X Factor musical be a hit? One million per cent, yes!" Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard said that this is "an unashamedly populist show that's laced with satirical glee... and at the heart of the enterprise is Harry Hill's perennially wacky sensibility, abetted by the songwriting of composer Steve Brown, whose default setting is exuberant pastiche." In the Daily Telegraph Charles Spencer praised the show as being "wildly eccentric and often wonderfully funny. It is also splendidly rude about Simon Cowell himself... the songs by Steve Brown, with additional lyrics by Harry Hill, offer an exuberant pastiche of a huge range of styles... there is a cracking performance too from Nigel Harman as Cowell" conclusing that this show is "a big popular hit blessed with real heart and great theatrical panache."
Sean Foley's West End credits include Do You Come Here Often? at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1998. His directing credits include The Ladykillers (Gielgud Theatre 2011 and Vaudeville Theatre 2013), What The Butler Saw (Vaudeville Theatre 2012), Arturo Brachetti (Garrick Theatre 2009) and Pinter's People (Haymarket Theatre 2007). Kate Prince is the founder of ZooNation and in London has choreographed both Into the Hoods (Novello Theatre 2008) and Some Like it Hip Hop (Peacock Theatre 2011, 2012 and 2013).
Harry Hill said: "I've met Simon Cowell three times and he's interesting, smart and so far has been really good fun and positive. He hasn't had a lot to do with it so far. He's just had to give us the thumbs up, which he did. The musical does take the mickey out of him quite mercilessly, so full marks to him for having a sense of humour. I think he likes the fun of it. He hasn't changed anything." Adding that "the show is outrageous, silly and quite affecting, with some really sweet moments in there, too. The songs reflect the genres of songs you might get on The X Factor. You are going to go away whistling. It's one of the most exciting things I've worked on." This show was originally going to be tiled X Factor - It's Time To Face The Musical.
"While it follows the traditional boy meets girl/boy loses girl/boy gets girl back again storyline, it also finds time to include a hunchback, an iron lung, a giant fly and arguably the world's most successful television franchise as essential parts of the mix... These moments of ludicrousness are mostly concentrated in the first half, the second being about the madness of the X Factor show itself, and while the second half is superglam and glitzy, it would benefit from more of Hill's inventive humour, and possibly 10 minutes shaved from its running time... IF you are a fan of the X Factor, you will adore all the references and love the show; if you have never seen it, then don't bother going, as most of it will go above your head... Es Devlin's sets are absolutely incredible; you can see where every penny of the rumoured £6million budget has gone, with crazy props and spectacular projections... Steve Brown's songs are memorable, particularly I Can't Sing and Falling In Love With Myself, and it is all peppily directed by Sean Foley... It is a tremendous spectacle with more than an edge of camp and an ending which you will never guess." The Express on Sunday
"I frequently have half an eye on The X Factor - already a brilliant parody of itself - while also reading a novel or preparing a devilishly fiddly soufflé. Which, frankly, is more than you need to keep up with who's in and who's out, and relish every detail of the contestants' usually poverty-stricken, even tragic, back-stories. Alas, The X Factor musical I Can't Sing! does the exactly same thing: dutifully trots through the clichés with a just a sprinkling of exaggeration rather than blowing them into crazy caricatures with the sublime silliness that makes The Book Of Mormon so hilarious. Moreover, I Can't Sing! has none of the original's inbuilt tension from not knowing who the winner will be... I wanted to love it but it's only mildly amusing and often plain boring. So it's a no from me." The Mail on Sunday
"Harry Hill has based a career on making television about television. Now he has decided to broaden his horizons and make theatre about television. Along with Steve Brown (music and lyrics), he has concocted I Can't Sing!, a comedy about The X Factor, young and talented wannabe stars, longings and journeys and dreams... Sean Foley's directing is sharper than the script, and a couple of the songs are catchy... Is it an affectionate parody, a spoof, a burlesque? Perhaps all three - but it stands at no discernible distance from the world it's pretending to mock. Nobody takes The X Factor seriously in the first place, so what's the point of mocking it? It's intrinsically ridiculous already." The Sunday Times
I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical in London at the London Palladium previewed from 1 March 2014, opened on 26 March 2014 and closed on 10 May 2014 - the first two previews on 27 and 28 February 2014 were cancelled due to technical issues.