Previews for "The X Factor" stage musical "I Can't Sing!" began on March 5, 2014, after the previews were postponed for several days due to "technical difficulties," which the producers hope will be resolved by the time the musical is scheduled to officially open on March 26, 2014. The musical is at the London Palladium in London.
According to a BBC report on March 7, 2014, the first preview show of "I Can't Sing!" on March 5 had a 50-minute delay in between acts. The producers of "I Can't Sing!" issued this statement, according to the BBC:
"We have a huge and ambitious set, which is thrilling our audiences when they see it, but we're aware that the turnaround between acts needs to be quicker and our technical teams continue to work extremely hard on shortening it.
"The preview period for any new West End show is, by its nature, a time for ironing out any issues and we fully recognize there's still work to do on the interval length, which is getting shorter all the time, and we thank everyone for their patience. We've had an absolutely terrific response from our preview audiences, with standing ovations each night so far."
Theater critics traditionally do not review preview performances and wait to review a show after it officially opens.
On Jan. 15, 2014, "The X Factor" musical "I Can't Sing!" revealed its first official cast photos with the stars who play the judges in the musical: Nigel Harman (who plays the character of Simon, inspired by Simon Cowell), Ashley Knight (who plays the character of Louis, inspired by "X Factor" U.K. judge Louis Walsh) and Victoria Elliott (who plays Jordy, inspired by former "X Factor" judge Cheryl Cole, who is a Geordie).
As previously reported, songs from "I Can't Sing!" got a sneak preview at the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium on Nov. 25, 2013. ITV televised the Royal Variety Performance on Dec. 9 2013.
Olivier Award-winning actor Harman has been cast in the starring role of Simon. Harman replaced Alexander Hanson.
As previously reported in February 2013, Hanson had been cast as Cowell in "The X Factor" stage musical before the show had a name. However, Hanson parted ways with the musical for reasons that have not been made public. Hanson has been in the British TV shows "The Bill," "Casualty" and "Auf Wiedersehen Pet." He also co-starred in the Broadway production of "A Little Night Music."
Cowell is one of the producers of "I Can't Sing!"
According to the Press Association, songs from "I Can't Sing" include "Please Simon" and the title number, "I Can't Sing!" Former "X Factor" judge Cole is reportedly parodied in the musical as a character called Jordy from the band Loud Girl Noize. (In real life, Cole is a Geordie who rose to fame in the singing group Girls Aloud.)
On Jan. 25, 2013, "The X Factor" executive producer Cowell attended a workshop of "The X Factor" stage musical to decide if he wanted to produce the show or not. He tweeted: "Am on my way to see the workshop of X factor the musical." Three hours later, he then announced on Twitter: "The X factor musical is sensational! It's a yes from me."
According to The Sun, Cowell and his Syco Music company plan to invest about £10 million (or $16 million in U.S. dollars) into the musical.
Hill told The Sun in a May 2013 interview: “We’d been umm-ing and ahh-ing about the title for a while, then it hit us — there’s never been a musical called 'I Can’t Sing!' It also happens to be the title of one of the funniest songs in the show, and we hope hints at the direction we’re taking this production.
“We think it’s also the only musical for a while with a singing hunchback, a talking dog and a man on an iron lung, but we’d have to Google that to be sure. We’re pretty certain that you won’t have seen anything like it before and it’s great that Simon is backing it 4,500 per cent.
"I Can't Sing!" follows the journey of an "X Factor" U.K. contestant named Chenice. In "I Can't Sing!," Chenice has a romance with fellow contestant Max. Cynthia Erivo plays Chenice, and Alan Morrissey plays Max.
Other "I Can't Sing!" cast members are
- Simon Bailey as "X Factor" host Liam O’Deary (inspired by real-life "X Factor" U.K. host Dermot O'Leary)
- Billy Carter as "X Factor" U.K. executive producer Gerard Smalls (inspired by real-life "X Factor" executive producer Richard Holloway)
- Simon Lipkin as Chenice’s faithful canine sidekick Barlow (inspired by former "X Factor" U.K. judge Gary Barlow)
- Joe Speare as Chenice's iron-lung bound grandfather
- Katy Secombe as supermarket checkout employee Brenda, an "X Factor" contestant (inspired by former "X Factor" U.K. 2010 contestant Mary Byrne, who was nicknamed Tesco Mary)
- Charlie Baker as The Hunchback, an "X Factor" contestant
- Shaun Smith and Rowen Hawkins as hyperactive Irish pop duo Alterboyz (inspired by Jedward, the Irish twin brothers who were on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2009).
Other cast members include Luke Baker, Adam J. Bernard, Jenna Boyd, Cyrus Brandon, Gabrielle Brooks, Scarlette Douglas, Kelly Ewins, Scott Garnham, Cherelle Jay, Faisal Khodaukus, Jaye Marshall, Brian McCann, Max Parker, Joseph Prouse, Steven Serlin, Kirstie Skivington, Philippa Stefani, Gary Trainor and Alex Young.
News of "The X Factor" musical first broke in September 2011, when it was reported that Cowell had reached out to Hill to work on the musical.
A source told The Sun about Cowell's reaction to the musical: “He genuinely loves it. Simon knows that many people see him as a bit of a cartoon character so he doesn’t mind having the p*ss taken out of him. It’s a very funny script Harry Hill has put together and the songs are laugh-out-loud amusing.”
Steve Brown has written music for the production, which will feature original songs.
According to the Daily Mirror, Cowell said that he did not interfere in the writing of the musical, which pokes fun at several "X Factor" stars, including Cowell: “The deal I made with Harry was ‘I’m not going to change a word.' It is what it is. If it looks like I had an influence, it won’t work.”
Cowell is reportedly trying to convince Cole to become a judge on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2014 (after he fired her from "The X Factor" U.S. in 2011), and he admitted the Daily Mirror that he has concerns about how she will react to the Jordy character in the "I Can't Sing!" musical: “Cheryl is going to kill me when she sees it. I mean, seriously, I really am going to get it in the neck.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror reported some details about how these characters are portrayed in the musical: "In the first preview of the show Dermot O’Leary is depicted as needy Liam O’Deary — desperate to appear cool and credible. Character Jordy appears to be based on Cheryl Cole. She is seen kissing a statue of ex-husband Ashley Cole which she keeps in her dressing room. Jordy also attempts to seduce a contestant and is warned to “steer clear of professional footballers."
Jordy is also portrayed as a sexpot who sings, “Show me a man who resists me and I will show you Elton John.”
According to the Daily Mirror: "Louis Walsh is a doddery old man — called Louis — who doesn’t know what’s going on half the time and is obsessed with dreadful Irish boy bands. And Gary Barlow seems to be represented by an overly amorous dog called Barlow who has a crush on Cowell."
As for Cowell, he gets skewered for his personal life and his fashion choices. The Daily Mirror reports that the lyrics of one song proclaim Simon's ability to “steal wives” as well as "posing continual questions over his sexuality. In one scene he is seen spanking a male contestant called Max. And one of the songs claims to reveal the secret behind his trademark high-waisted trousers."
Cowell is expected to attend the opening night of "I Can't Sing!," but one "X Factor" star who definitely won't be there is O'Leary, who told the Daily Mirror that he doesn't plan to see the musical at all: “I’m not going to see it. What’s the point? It might look a bit odd if I was there. I’m sure it’s good fun.”
March 18, 2014 update: "I Can't Sing" experienced another major problem during the show on March 17, 2014. According to WENN: "The second act was cancelled after a major electrical fault at the London Palladium theatre caused a 45-minute delay. Sean Foley, the show's director, came onstage to announce the problem and offered guests refunds or exchanges for an alternative night."