'X-Factor' Musical 'I Can't Sing' Becomes West End's Guilty Pleasure
'I Can't Sing' is actually pretty good. So there.
You would have been forgiven for completely forgetting about Harry Hill's X-Factor musical 'I Can't Sing', with that bloke from Eastenders playing Simon Cowell, but it's finally here - and the critics are having their say.
Simon Cowell [center] and Harry Hill [R]
Cowell is actually listed as co-producer of the new musical - which opened at the London Palladium on Wednesday (March 26, 2014) - and the reports had suggested this would be one big fat satirical takedown of the mega-bucks talent show that he created. However, as Michael Billington of The Guardian writes, it's actually "uneasily pitched between send-up and celebration."
The story is pretty simple - we follow a would-be astrobiologist named Chenice living in a caravan beneath a motorway with her ailing grandfather. She is persuaded by her plumber, Max, to audition for the X-Factor - she eventually reaches the final.
Harry Hill Wrote 'I Can't Sing'
"I've had many worse evenings at musicals. But I fail to see the point of a show that doesn't know whether it wants to excoriate The X Factor or boost its TV ratings," added Billington.
"The strain of upping the satirical ante on a programme that long ago lunged into self-parody sometimes tells. But there are some sharp digs at the manipulativeness of the process. The plumber's defiance of Simon's song-choices and his taste for the derivative in the simple, affecting "Song I Wrote For You" is a liberating highlight," wrote Paul Taylor of The Independent.
"There is a cracking performance too from Nigel Harman as Cowell," said Charles Spencer, "The show may be too raucous and vulgar for some, but I Can't Sing strikes me as a big popular hit blessed with real heart and great theatrical panache."
"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." said Simon Edge of the Express.