X Factor musical launches in London

Simon Cowell and show creator Harry Hill discuss I Can't Sing!

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Comedian Harry Hill has said his forthcoming X Factor musical is not just for fans of the ITV talent show.

Speaking at the launch of I Can't Sing!, Hill told the BBC there was "something for the likers and something for the haters" in the musical which pokes fun at the programme.

X Factor boss Simon Cowell added he had no problem being "completely ripped apart" in the production.

"I'm used to it. If it bothered me I wouldn't have done the show," he said.

"I didn't want to do a musical we took too seriously - it's a fun show. The big thing for me was if the songs were good or not, but I get it in the neck throughout.

"I never thought the musical would materialise and when I went to the workshop I was laughing so much I thought we've got to make this show."

'Part for Sinitta'

Start Quote

He'll be very butch at times I'm sure and at other times he will sing - and even dance”

End Quote Nigel Harmon on how he will portray Simon Cowell on stage

Composer and lyricist Steve Brown admitted when Hill first approached him about the musical he thought it was "either the worst idea I've ever heard or it's a stroke of genius - and after I thought about it overnight I said it was genius".

He said it had been easy to write the musical because Cowell gave them creative licence to poke fun at both him and the show.

"I think he trusted us - he knew we wouldn't be ridiculous. I was expecting [him to be] much more 'I don't like that song', but he just let it roll."

Hill added: "We tried not to be cruel, but to take the mickey in a friendly way."

He joked Cowell made only request - a role for 80s pop star and friend Sinitta.

"He did ask 'please could there be a part for Sinitta', but you've got to draw the line somewhere," he said.

The musical tells the story of Chenice - a young woman who has never heard of the X Factor after growing up in an ITV blackspot - who ends up auditioning for the show thanks to new friend and wannabe rocker Max.

Cynthia Erivo, who won critical acclaim for her performance as Celie in the stage production of The Color Purple and stars as I Can't Sing's lead, said she was happy to be cast in the musical.

"Excited would be an understatement, it's a new adventure." she said.

Cowell's trousers

Former EastEnders and Shrek The Musical star Nigel Harmon has been cast as Cowell in the production.

Cynthia Erivo The Color Purple star Cynthia Erivo plays Chenice in the musical

Director Sean Foley said the actor was "absolutely the right person" to play the role.

However, Harmon admitted he had yet to decide how he was going to portray Cowell on stage.

"He'll be very butch at times I'm sure and at other times he will sing - and even dance," he said.

The musical, which also includes digs at George Michael, Geri Halliwell, Coldplay and James Blunt, promises to lift the lid on what goes on behind the scenes on the ITV show - including why Cowell wears his trousers so high.

"They're not very high anymore - it was a phase I went through," the media mogul said.

He added that although he had not considered it, turning the musical into a film "would be amazing".

But he did suggest past X Factor contestants could have a role in the show in the future.

"I spoke to Leona [Lewis] and Alexandra [Burke] and they're excited about it. Maybe if it goes well we'll do one charity performance where we get past X Factor contestants to play a role for a one-off," he said.

The show will open at the London Palladium on 26 March with previews from 27 February.

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