Performance: 27th March 2014
Here’s the thing, I don’t even like X-Factor, so when they announced a musical version I was (hardly surprised) a little sceptical. Great musicals have been based on worse but there’s something about X-Factor. I totally agree with allowing people to defy social backgrounds to get their chance, but the shitty song choices, give me a break, it’s sort of happy to be mediocre entertainment.
So imagine my shock (go on, imagine it) when the casting featured NO stunt casting. In fact the cast was 100% pure West End talent, all up and coming stars who have their own “in the know” fan bases. The second I heard Cynthia Erivo (who destroyed it in the Color Purple) was in I bought my tickets. Clearly she knew something we didn’t, this could be worth a look.
I Can’t Sing, it turns out, is a bloody solid musical, well structured and paced with a very funny script and hilarious songs (and some really catchy melodies). The narrative couldn’t be more basic, Chenice (the stunning Erivo), fuelled by the death of her grandfather decides to go on X-Factor. There, that’s it, the whole story; the rest is just filled out by craziness and one of the oddest scripts going.
The show is held together by a fantastic cast, as I’ve said, made up of the crème de le crème of the West End. Nigel Harman, with an amazing voice, does a great Simon, whilst Simon Bailey holds the proceedings together with his Dermot impression. I always like seeing Simon Lipkin in anything; he has an amazing boyish energy that seems to be even more so when he has his hands up a puppets bum.
For me though the supporting cast were the real treat, especially the wonderful Scott Garnham, who I suddenly realised I’m stalking around the West End. Like everyone else, he had a 1001 shoes to feel in this production, yet some how managed to bring charm and personality to each of them. Now give this guy a staring role.
The show is far from perfect, it’s not groundbreaking and isn’t very cultural. But it’s good fun and it’s of a solid quality. I must admit I had been dreading it until the reviews came in and I suddenly realised this could work. It maybe a sad reflection of culture but it’s also a brilliant reflection of the British sense of humour, and what we can we achieve when simply stop chasing the ratings.