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I Can't Sing!

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Closed May 10, 2014

Wildly eccentric and often wonderfully funny - as well as splendidly rude about Simon Cowell

Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph

Why See I Can't Sing!?

A Noble Failure?

Simon Cowell's magic touch deserted him for the first time with this lavish £6 million musical, which closed just six weeks after its premiere on 26th March 2014. Written by Harry Hill, with music provided by TV Burp collaborator Steve Jones, this parody up of Cowell's singing contest The X-Factor actually opened to fairly good notice. The Independent's Paul Taylor praised it's"surreal bonkers charm" while Timeout called it "joyously weird". Many critics did call out the one overarching problem with the show - it never landed on a tone. Was it a scathing satire or an affectionate tribute to Simon Cowell's brand of reality entertainment? The fact that Cowell himself produced the venture seemed to suggest it was aiming for the latter.

What is I Can't Sing About?"

Anyone familiar with Hill's brand of comedy could have guessed at the zany nature of the show's structure. I Can't Sing! followed the story of Chenise (Cynthia Erivo), a destitute young girl who lives under a bridge with her talking dog Barlow and somehow ends up on the X-Factor. Around this paper-thin plot were hung a mass of quick sketches, musical numbers and gloriously scaled flights of fancy, such as the set piece which saw Nigel Harmon's Simon Cowell sitting on top of a cloud, lit by deifying burst of sunshine. Among the cast of desperate wannabes, thinly veiled caricatures of Jedward, Louie Walsh and Cheryl Cole added to the pantomime atmosphere.

While the show's pre-production and preview stage was dogged by technical difficulties, it's early closure was still a shock. "We took a punt" admitted Cowell, "and it didn't work out". Still, Hill and Brown's effort was certainly not the disaster it's shortened run might suggest, and might have just succeeded at a smaller venue than the Palladium.

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Additional Information

Dates

Previews from: 27 February 2014

Opening night: 26 March 2014

Audience

Recommended for five years and older

Run time

2 hours 30 minutes with one 25-minute intermission

Cast and Creative

Cast

The Judges:
Nigel Harman as Simon
Ashley Knight as Louis
Victoria Elliott as Jordy

Simon Bailey as Liam O’Deary
Cynthia Erivo as Chenice
Alan Morrissey as Max
Simon Lipkin as Barlow
Joe Speare as Grandad
Other Contestants
Katy Secombe, Charlie Baker, Shaun Smith and Rowen Hawkins

 

Creative

Written by Harry Hill
Music & lyrics by Steve Brown
Directed by Sean Foley
Set design by Es Devlin
Choreography by Kate Prince

What we thought

cringey Quirky ZANY

Don't go looking for a deep and philosophical critique of talent show culture, but enjoy it for what it ashamedly sets out to be

There are so many entertaining characters that it's impossible to give them all credit, although watch out for Cynthia Erivo as the next big star in West End theatre.

Read full review
Natalie Vincent

Natalie Vincent

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