As expected, the previously announced X Factor musical which is set to open next March had a further push this week, tying in with the show's return to our small screens. Ratings for the opening shows this weekend which saw previous judge the inimitable Sharon Osbourne return to the judging panel were up on last year. Things are looking good for the stage version too with on-the-money casting choices now announced. Rapidly rising star Cynthia Erivo and Eastenders heartthrob Nigel Harman will anchor the upcoming production.
Erivo has recently won huge critical acclaim for her turn as Celie in the Menier Chocolate Factory's musical version of A Color Purple. She has previously proven her command of the stage by playing the high octane lead Delores in the touring version of Sister Act The Musical, and has a raw talent perfect for the lead role of Chenice in I Can't Sing!. Caravan-dwelling Chenice ends up being talked into auditioning by her friend even though she has never heard of the tv show, and is subsequently catapulted to fame. At the press junket Erivo was thrilled to have won the role, saying "Excited would be an understatement, it's a new adventure."
Playing Simon Cowell in the new production is ex-Eastender Nigel Harman. The audience favourite has a big following and has already proven his stage chops with a well-recieved turn in Guys and Dolls and an Olivier Award for originating the role of Lord Farquaad in the London production of Shrek The Musical. Sean Foley, I Can't Sing!'s director says Harman is "absolutely the right person" to play the Simon Cowell-inspired role. Harman is still mulling over how he will be portraying the music mogul, but muses "he'll be very butch at times I'm sure and at other times he will sing - and even dance." Cowell's tongue-in-cheek advice to Harman as to how to capture his essence is "just be a d**k every night."
Creator Harry Hill reveals that the X Factor musical will have something for both those who love and despise the marmite tv show, which despite its critics remains a huge ratings draw. "We tried not to be cruel, but to take the mickey in a friendly way" he revealed, with Cowell adding "I didn't want to do a musical we took too seriously - it's a fun show...I get it in the neck throughout." Now that the current X Factor TV series has been launched, even more of a push is expected for the stageshow which will need to hit the ground running when it opens next year, but the early signs are there that the show will not be another Viva Forever.
I Can't Sing! The X Factor Musical begins previews at the London Palladium on the 27th February before opening on the 26th March.
I Can't Sing! tickets are on sale now