I CAN’T SING
book and additional lyrics by Harry Hill music and lyrics by Steve Brown.
London Palladium Argyll Street W1 To 25 October 2014.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 0871 297 0777.
Review: William Russell 24 March.
Maybe the tweeters will save it.
Written by hugely popular TV comedian Harry Hill, with music by Steve Brown, who wrote Spend, Spend, Spend this slapdash, chaotically staged musical attempts to send up Simon Cowell and The X Factor and fails.
It could have been our Book of Mormon, but is irredeemably end-of-the-pier-show stuff. Had it appeared when Cowell and his cohorts ruled over Saturday night TV it might have worked rather better, but, although some of Hill’s barbs hit home, it all seems rather pointless and yesterday’s mashed potatoes.
There are some things to enjoy, especially Nigel Harmon, oozing self-love, sex appeal, and claiming to be “Fabulous”, as Simon. Since Harman is a strapping six-footer and more the man Cowell sees himself as than the man he really is the joke works well. The girl who wins the X Factor show, Chenice, is splendidly sung by Cynthia Erivo, who has a first-rate voice.
Other pluses include Chenice’s talking dog Barlow, a puppet manipulated by Simon Lipkin, who falls in love with Cowell, Simon Bailey as an embarrassingly tactile Liam O’Dreary and Victoria Elliot sending-up Cheryl Cole mercilessly as a judge called Jordy.
But Brown’s score is unmemorable and the oddly constructed story-line does not help. It tells how orphaned Chenice, who thinks she can’t sing but of course can, and her very dull plumber boyfriend Max (Alan Morrisey), who can’t, both become X Factor winners.
But Simon and his chums do not surface until Act Two. In a work whose raison d’être is to send them all up this is most peculiar. Hill, for all his charm as a performer, is a hit and miss comic on television, so it is no great surprise this is a hit and miss affair with far too many misses.
Sean Foley’s direction is more or less non-existent and what happens on stage is chaotic. But it is a harmless and quite good-natured show, so there may be a public for it. The hunchback contestant, who has what all talent show competitors require, “a good back story”, is a neat idea.
Simon: Nigel Harman.
Max: Alan Morrisey.
Liam O’Dreary: Simon Bailey.
Hunchback: Charlie Baker.
Gerard Smalls: Billy Carter.
Jordy: Victoria Elliot.
Louis: Ashley Knight.
Barlow: Simon Lipkin.
Brenda: Katy Secombe.
Grandpa: Joe Speare.
Young Simon: Finlay Banks/Noah Key/Macready Massey/Milo Panni.
The voice of Peter Dickson: Peter Dickson.
Ensemble: Delroy Atkinson, Rowen Hawkins, Joseph Prouse, Steven Serlin, Shaun Smith, Alex Young, Luke Baker.
Ensemble: Jenna Boyd, Cyrus Brandon, Gabrielle Brooks, Scarlette Douglas, Scott Garnham, Cherell Jay, Jaye Marshall, Philippa Stefani, Gary Trainor.
Dance Captain: Kelly Ewins-Prouse.
Swings: Adam J Bernard, Faisal Khodabukus, Brian McCann, Max Parker, Kirstie Skivington.
Director: Sean Foley.
Designer: Es Devlin.
Lighting: Jon Clark.
Sound: Gareth Owen.
Orchestrator/Musical Arranger: Chris Egan.
Music Supervisor/Vocal arranger: Phil Bateman.
Choreographer: Kate Prince.
Costume: Leah Archer.
Video: Treatment Visual Productions.