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'The X Factor' musical 'I Can't Sing!' reveals first cast photo of the judges

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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.

As previously reported, "I Can't Sing!" is scheduled to officially premiere at the London Palladium in London on March 29, 2014. Previews are from Feb. 27 to March 25, 2014. Tickets are currently on sale. More information can be found at the official "I Can't Sing!" website.

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.

As previously reported, former "TV Burp" star Harry Hill wrote the musical's script.

The Sun revealed that the musical's plot will follow the "X Factor" journey of a contestant named Shenise:

"To ramp up the emotion Shenise — said to be based on real-life 'X Factor' winners Alexandra Burke and Leona Lewis — reveals her dad has to use an iron lung. She provides a 'SuBo' moment and soon makes the finals. The show also features a variety of ridiculous no-hopers trying to grab their own 15 minutes of fame, including a hunchback. Asked why he has entered by Simon and his fellow judges — a WAG-type lass called Geordie (based on Cheryl Cole) and a chirpy Louis Walsh character — he replies: 'I know you like a good back story.' Simon is then revealed to actually be an alien, who blasts off back to space at the end of the show from where he controls the entire world."

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.

The character of Shenise is apparently now spelled 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
  • Joe Speare as Chenice's iron-lung bound grandfather
  • Katy Secombe as supermarket checkout employee Brenda, an "X Factor" contestant
  • 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.

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