News & Features 03 Apr, 2014

We speak to Harry Hill & Nigel Harman

I Can't Sing, one of the West End's newest musicals is set to open following a month of previews.  We spoke to comedian and show writer Harry Hill and the lead actor Nigel Harman about how the show has come together and what audiences can expect.

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What should we expect from I Can’t Sing?

Nigel - It’s an off the wall new musical written by Harry Hill and Steve Brown. The show has a great central story and the songs are incredible; really catchy with hilarious lyrics and genuine heart. The show is a really special addition to the West End. 

How did you come up with the concept for the show?

Harry - I was watching the final of X Factor on TV; I had been drinking a little and eating hard cheeses. That night Simon came to me in a dream and told me he wanted me to write a musical. The next day I got his number from directory enquiries and phoned him. He said he’d been expecting my call. 

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Harry, how does this show differ to what you have previously done in your career?

Well it’s very much a collaborative approach - a huge undertaking with many different departments - music, casting, choreography, set design and of course the music and director. Fortunately I’ve managed to fall in with a bunch of really talented and creative people.

Is the musical meant to be a homage to the TV show?

Harry - Homage is the wrong word. It’s 1 part celebration to 1 part mickey take to 8 parts nonsense. It sends up the show in a (largely) affectionate way - a bit like we used to do on TV Burp - except there’s no WAGBO! 

What makes I Can’t Sing! different to other shows that have recently found it hard to succeed?

Harry - Well this is a completely different take; it’s an out and out crazy comedy musical in the mould of The Rocky Horror Show or The Producers. Plus we haven’t got any songs by the Spice Girls in ours! 

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Nigel, what made you take on the part of Simon?

Playing Simon is a lot of fun, as you can imagine, and from the start he hasn’t been afraid to have the micky taken out of him throughout the show. His advice to me when I took the role was to go out and make a complete idiot of him every night! 

How would you convince people who dislike the TV show to come along?

Harry - Our aim was always to make the show so it would appeal to people who love or hate X Factor. Actually I don’t think you even need to have seen X Factor as most of the gags and the songs and the love story are universal. One of our backers is Dutch and he laughed all the way through the workshop! 

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How involved has Simon Cowell been in the process?

Nigel - Simon has been involved from the very beginning, but has let us get on with the creative side of things which has given the show real integrity in its gentle mocking of the characters!

Harry - Simon has done the right thing - he’s backed it whole heartedly and left us alone to get on with it. We’re pretty cheeky about him but so far he hasn’t asked for us to change anything. 

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