So, farewell then, to I Can’t Sing. Yes, the much-heralded West End musical came to a premature close last weekend, following the decision by the backers to pull the plug. Simon Cowell and Joop van den Ende (he of Endemol, and Stage Entertaiment, who co-produced it with Cowell’s Syco) might have more money than God between them, but that was still not enough to keep the spoof running.
I can see why it simultaneously thrilled and confounded audiences. I’m a sucker for Harry Hill’s surreal humour, and I’m more than familiar with Steve Brown’s skill at whipping up a parody song for TV and radio.
But all the knowing irony around the ‘back stories’, for instance, and some of Hill’s off-the-wall additions (the Humpback, the supermarket check-out scene, the grandfather in an iron lung… see what I mean about surreal?) might have just been too much for some theatre-goers. Especially the tourist set, who prop up the longer-running shows night after night. Plus, the Palladium is a big old space to fill every evening. With that venue, I Can’t Sing set itself such a huge task right from the start.
I loved the megalomaniac portrayal of Cowell (“Look at me, I’m on fire / I’m the goddamn Messiah…”) and I thought the character of The Wind was 100% Harry Hill genius. I was honoured to hear Gareth Owen’s very smart sound design, with all its deftly managed surround touches. A big round of applause to Orbital Sound and everyone who was involved in putting the show together.
If only the world was full of Guardian-reading postgrads like myself, the show would have run and run. But while it burned briefly, it certainly burned brightly. And I’m so very pleased I got to see it.
Dave Robinson, editor, PSNEurope