X Factor musical I Can’t Sing! to close after less than two months

The show written by Harry Hill and backed by Simon Cowell is the West End's latest big budget casualty

Richard Osley
Monday 28 April 2014 07:44
I Can't Sing! stars former EastEnders actor Nigel Harman (centre) as a character inspired by Simon Cowell
I Can't Sing! stars former EastEnders actor Nigel Harman (centre) as a character inspired by Simon Cowell

The spoof talent show musical I Can’t Sing!, written by comedian Harry Hill and backed by Simon Cowell, is to close its doors after just six weeks and three days.

The West End show had opened at the London Palladium with a celebrity-studded first night, but reviews were mixed. One critic said it was “a show of eye-smartingly bad taste” and another called the script “formulaic and self-consciously odd”. But elsewhere it was described as “wonderfully funny” and praised for being “splendidly rude about Simon Cowell”.

it has now become the latest big budget casualty to close sooner than expected in London's theatreland.

The final show will be on May 10, the producers said in a statement released on Saturday night.

It stars former EastEnders actor Nigel Harman as Simon Cowell and has teasing jokes about his fellow X-Factor judges Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh.

Last month, Cowell had said the show would count as a winner if it surpassed the seven months that the Spice Girls musical Viva Forever! – one of the biggest flops of recent years - had spent in the West End.

“Seven months and a day,” he joked, when asked after what time period the show could be seen as a success. “I’m not au fait with numbers. You’ve got to be confident in what you do, otherwise you’d be paralysed.”

The show had been put on by Stage Entertainment UK and Mr Cowell’s company Syco Entertainment.

Rebecca Quigley, CEO of Stage Entertainment UK, said: “The West End can be an unpredictable place as the closure of a number of high profile productions has recently shown. I can’t Sing has had audience on their feet night, four and five star reviews from the critics and an amazing company and creative team, but it seems that isn’t always enough.”

She added: “To open any big musical, and particularly a brand new British musical comedy at the London Palladium is no mean feat and hundreds of dedicated people have played a part in bringing this unique and wonderful show to the stage.”

Ashley Knight (Louis), Victoria Elliott (Jordy) and Nigel Harman (Simon) in I Can't Sing

Nigel Hall from Syco Entertainment, Mr Cowell’s company, insisted it had been a “fun project” and thanked the cast and crew.

Viva Forever! was said to have lost £5 million on its speedy closure, failing to bring in audiences despite being written by Jennifer Saunders and conceived by Judy Craymer, who had enjoyed success with the Abba musical Mamma Mia.

This year, two other big name West End shows have hit the buffers early.

Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s show Stephen Ward the musical, a show relating to the Profumo scandal, closed at the Aldwych Theatre last month after slow ticket sales.

And earlier in the year, Sir Tim Rice’s From Here To Eternity after a run which lasted only six months at the Shaftesbury Theatre. He later said: “I'm wondering if there's any market out there for musicals that aren't revivals, or jukebox musicals, or based on a recent hit film or something. It's difficult.”

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