I went to see the production of “I Can’t Sing” last month. I have held off writing a review as I saw it – ‘pre-release’ ie: whilst it was still developing. When I saw it – a week before opening – they had already went through a number of production overhauls and changes to dance routines. However, it has been out for over a month and the reviews have been at best – mediocre. I thought I’d give my 2 pence worth.
I Can’t Sing, was created by comedian Harry Hill and tells the story of a young contestant from London who faces the challenges of overnight success.
Firstly the whole premise of this musical is wrong. It is a musical that is supposed to poke fun at the ever serious Simon Cowell. Well, the fact that someone has went to all that effort to write a whole musical based around Cowell’s character – kinda has you thinking – who is exactly having the piss taken out of them…him…or us?
Secondly – the show is called – I can’t sing – well, in fact, all the cast can sing – they can dance and they can act. I had thought that the show would have spent more time dealing with the part of the Xfactor which I actually hate the most – the bit where they get people who they know are really bad – and shove them in front of an audience to make fools of themselves – for no other reason than it makes good television. I was therefore, interested in how they might do this. As it was – not much time was spent on this – which I actually think was to miss a trick.
Turning to the story – ok, let me first say that it is a bit like they have lifted a “how to make a musical” – template and crowbarred the story into it. Template: introduce the characters; add a disappointment; then a failure; follow that with sorrow; a desire to abandon; have a break; then – the rally around; a turn of events; a fight back; a triumph – with a big show number to end; hold it all together by a love story.
I Can’t Sing doesn’t stick rigidly to the above – but not far off. Then they get to the ‘live show’ part – where Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Cheryl Cole and Dermot O’Leary are all portrayed in the musical.
The only characterisations which are funny and interesting is Cheryl and Dermot’s. Louis’s character is as a bumbling old man – which isn’t funny or original. And Simon’s character – is supposed to mock…but actually – only if you are a Simon superfan would you see the mockery. I just felt it was another extension of the man himself – and couldn’t help but think….hmmm, like he needs the publicity??
I can’t work out whether these characterisations are the result of lazy writing or just too many people being involved in the process – constantly watering down and diluting ideas. I think it was George Lucas who said on film making – I won’t quote as this is only from memory….there is the film you want to produce; then think you are producing; and finally get – all 3 are different.
How to improve the show?
Hard to say – I’d get rid of the Simon Cowell character and make him something else – like the devil or an angry fairy – who is always in the air and feet are never allowed to be on the ground. If you are going to call it “I Can’t Sing” – I’d focus more on that element- the worst elements the Xfactor brings to our screens.
I can’t sing – says it is a piss take – but actually, it’s not. It’s also part funded by Simon Cowell…say’s it all.
So, it looks like Harry may sadly follow in the footsteps of the last celebrity comedian whose work didn’t survive the crossover from television to theatre – Viva Forever! the musical of the Spice Girls written by Jennifer Saunders. But I can’t help think – as George Lucas said – the production they wrote – probably wasn’t the productions the public saw.