I Cant Sing brings the X Factor to life on stage in the West End. Reality TV show stage adaptations are a tricky thing to get right. The Spice Girls musical Viva Forever attempted to do it last year but sadly failed (although I loved it!) and now we see another attempt in I Can’t Sing at the London Palladium. So have they got it right?
It’s the typical X Factor story of Chenise, who lives with her grandfather (and dog) in a caravan under a motorway. They have never heard of the X Factor as they can’t get ITV due to the interference of her grandfathers iron lung and it is only when Max (Alan Morrissey) knocks on the door to deliver a letter that they find out the competition exists. After the unfortunate death of her grandfather, Chenise decides to enter the competition to fulfil her grandfathers dying wish. We then follow her journey through to the grand final of the show.
Cynthia Erivo is unquestionably the star of the show as Chenise. Cynthia has been London’s hottest up and coming performer since blowing the roof off of the Menier Chocolate Factory last year in The Colour Purple. Her vocal range and powerful voice are nothing short of astounding, coming out of a girl so small. Simon Lipkin plays puppet dog Barlow with ease (having previously performed in the west ends puppet show Avenue Q). Simon looks at home in his performance showing his versatility as an actor (having recently finished performing in rock jukebox musical Rock of Ages). Nigel Harman gives a good performance as Simon Cowell. Smarmy and self involved, he perfectly embodies all the traits of the real Simon, being likeable whist also wanting to punch him in the face at times. Simon Bailey is hilarious as Liam O’Dreary, the X Factor show presenter. Taking off every one of Dermot O’Learys character traits perfectly.
Of course, audiences at a show like this can’t be expected to understand theatre etiquette. It’s full of chatty people who feel like they are watching the X Factor final on TV and the idea of being quiet isn’t something they even really consider. However you can forgive this because at times even I didn’t feel like I was at the theatre.
The problem with I Can’t Sing is that is can’t seem to make up it’s mind whether it is promoting the show X Factor or poking fun at it. When the show begain I thought it was going to be a 5 star show, I was really impressed. But then I found myself getting confused as to what message the show was trying to convey (is it for X Factor or against it). And then sadly the ending of the show really let itself down. Taking ridiculous to the extreme and tipping the show from very silly into totally unbelievable. For that reason only, I have to mark the show down from 4 stars to 3.
I loathed the idea of I Can’t Sing since the moment it was announced it would be coming to the west end. Everything about it sounded awful. However, as we learnt a few years ago when Susan Boyle walked on to the Britain’s Got Talent stage, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s not half as awful as I thought it would be! If you love X Factor then you will love this show. If you don’t, then you will have a good night but not be blown away by anything other than Cynthia Erivos voice.
Reviewed by West End Wilma