Ramblings about entertainment, lifestyle and travel
This past Wednesday I got the chance to go to the premiere of new West End musical I Can’t Sing at the London Palladium thanks to lastminute.com. To be quite honest I was excited about going to see it, but I didn’t exactly have high expectations for the show. I’m not really a fan of the X Factor, because quite frankly I’ve mostly got better things to do. However, I have to admit I’ve seen a fair few episodes, so I’m generally aware of the majority of (better known) contestants as well as all the different judges that have come and gone over the years. So a show that promises to take a satirical approach to the X Factor (and Simon Cowell) was certainly intriguing. Interestingly, the musical was partly financed by Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment, which does lead to the question of a conflict of interest.
I Can’t Sing, written by Harry Hill and composed by Steve Brown, is a musical spoof that revolves around mimicking the X Factor and all that it’s got to offer, including the tear-jerking life stories, romance on set, the singing, obsession with fame and celebrity and the backstabbing you’d expect on a show like the X Factor. The whole evening still seems a bit surreal to me. I Can’t Sing starts off with the story of Simon Cowell (played by Nigel Harman) and his obsession to make money as a kid. It then goes on to introduce lead character Chenice (played by Cynthia Erivo) and her life living in a caravan with her granddad, who just so happens to be in an iron lung and only one plug, making it near to impossible to watch TV and least of all the X Factor. Unaware of her singing abilities and any opportunities to turn her life around, she meets plumber Max (Alan Morrissey), who’s got an undeniable resemblance to Matt Cardle and ultimately provides the introduction to the X Factor.
There are a number of interesting characters in the show, which I suppose you’d also expect on the real X Factor. However, probably not in the form of dog Barlow – Gary? – (played by Simon Lipkin), who’s Chenice’s only friend (and protector) before she meets Max or a character playing the wind, who randomly comes on stage throughout the show. There are also some other X Factor hopefuls who resemble a number of personalities from the real talent show, including the flamboyant Brazilian Wagner Carillo, Jedward in the form of the Altarboyz and Susan Boyle as checkout girl Brenda.
The show continues to draw on the random characters and plays out the chemistry between Simon and Jordy, who resembles Cheryl Cole, with a hunger for making money – even if this requires the destruction of a young couple. It further underlines Simon’s reputation, portraying him as a messiah and being the ultimate showbiz personality.
However, the real highlights of the show were without a doubt Liam O’Deary (get it?), played by Simon Bailey, Simon (Nigel Harman) and Barlow (Simon Lipkin). Their characters were fantastic and apart from Barlow, both had an uncanny resemblance to the real life personalities. In particular Simon Bailey managed to capture so many of Dermot O’Leary’s characteristics, that it was an absolute joy to watch him impersonate Dermot. Jordy also took on some of Cheryl’s characteristics, most notably her accent, but I could’ve done without a few of those ‘pet’ mentions.
I truly enjoyed the show and laughed pretty much all the way through. There were some parts that I found annoying (pet) or just weren’t needed, like the love story, because there’s already enough going on in the show. It also came across as if the writers weren’t entirely sure whether they were actually in support of the X Factor or against it. However, because it was so far-fetched in many ways and completely over the top, it just became entertaining. Cynthia Erivo is an incredible performer and singer, so thankfully we didn’t have to endure awful singing and the whole cast was genuinely entertaining. I would recommend watching it if you just want to have a good laugh, but if you’re looking for a satirical approach all the way through it’s probably not one for you.
Surprisingly, at the end of the show the real Simon Cowell spontaneously came on stage and congratulated the cast, so it does beg the question if he’s actually a much more down-to-earth guy than portrayed having essentially been ridiculed for a good 2 hours and 30 minutes.
The show is in the West End until late October and tickets can be purchased here: http://www.icantsingthemusical.com/tickets/