Initial casting has been announced for Harry Hill and Steve Brown’s hotly anticipated X-Factor musical, I Can’t Sing The X-Factor Musical, which commences previews at the London Palladium on 24 February 2014.
X-Factor supremo and dad-to-be Simon Cowell has revealed that he will be played in the show by Nigel Harman (right), and that the central role of young X-Factor contestants Chenice will be played by Cynthia Erivo (below), currently starring in the Menier Chocolate Factory’s revival of The Color Purple, with Alan Morrissey as her boyfriend Max.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Cowell said, 'The hardest thing was: how do you find someone who’s good-looking, talented and can look like me? And then we found Nigel!'
Harman’s casting bodes well for the quality of the show. Best known for his extended tenure as Dennis Rickman in EastEnders, he’s presently filming the role of valet Mr Green for the forthcoming fourth series of transatlantic telly mega-hit Downton Abbey.
He’s also worked extensively in theatre. Among his notable credits are an acclaimed performance as Sky Masterson in Michael Grandage's revival of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre in 2007, and the role of Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, for which he won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical and Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.
Erivo’s previous stage credits include The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg at the Gielgud Theatre, the UK tour of Sister Act: The Musical, and The Three Musketeers And The Princess Of Spain at the Traverse Theatre / Belgrade Theatre / English Touring Company.
Although Cowell’s production company Psyco is co-producing I Can’t Sing, he's forbidden to interfere with its creative content. As such, Harman is set to portray the entertainment tycoon as 'an overbearing buffoon'.
Underlining the accepted wisdom that the super-rich are impregnable to all forms of criticism – or maybe they’re just a bunch of really good eggs – Cowell says that witnessing himself being sent up in early workshops for I Can’t Sing! was ‘the funniest thing I’ve ever seen’.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last ten years, you don't need us to tell you that TV talent show The X-Factor has become an all-conquering international phenomenon - which will be lampooned to within an inch of its life in I Can’t Sing.
Conceived and written by comic genius Harry Hill, the show promises much. Featuring sharp parodies of X-Factor stalwarts Louis Walsh and Cheryl Cole and, of course, Cowell himself, Hill advises us to also expect a veritable sideshow’s worth of barmy oddities, including a singing hunchback, a man on an iron lung and a talking dog.
The show’s music and lyrics are by Steve Brown, and it’s directed by Sean Foley.