Arts

Published: Thursday May 1, 2014 MYT 9:15:00 PM
Updated: Thursday May 1, 2014 MYT 8:01:45 AM

Simon Cowell's RM33mil 'X Factor' musical croaks after 6 weeks at West End

X Factor guru Simon Cowell has become the latest big name in show business to suffer an expensive pratfall in London’s West End with the announcement that the musical I Can’t Sing! he co-produced will close after a six-week run.

The demise of the musical parody of the TV talent contest, which reportedly cost 6mil pounds (RM33mil) to produce, comes hard on the heels of the closures of new musicals by long-time West End and Broadway hotshots Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It also follows the expensive 2012 fiasco of a musical based on the Spice Girls pop band.

The closure of I Can’t Sing! – which featured a talking dog and portrayed Cowell as a megalomaniac, played by Nigel Harman – was announced on the show’s website and was also tweeted to its followers.

“Stage Entertainment and Syco Entertainment, the producers of I Can’t Sing! at the London Palladium, have announced the closure of the production on Saturday 10th May 2014,” the statement on the website said. “The show received a series of rave reviews and standing ovations from thousands of theatre-goers following its opening earlier this year.”

Despite reviews praising the show’s irreverence, it struggled to fill one of the West End’s largest theatres, and on some nights a hoarding outside advertised the availability of choice seats for only 20 pounds just before curtain time.

“The West End can be an unpredictable place as the closure of a number of high-profile productions recently has shown,” said Rebecca Quigley, the CEO of Stage Entertainment. “I Can’t Sing! has had audiences on their feet night after night, four and five star reviews from the critics and an amazing company and creative team, but it seems that isn’t always enough.”

Nigel Harman as Simon Cowell seen on stage in I Can't Sing!, the X Factor musical. Below is the ensemble performing a number called Please Simon, from the musical. 

According to the Daily Mail, Simon Cowell's company Syco lost £4mil on the doomed musical. The article also reported that it's been an especially bad time for the company as its new ventures, The X Factor USA, and a cooking reality show Food Glorious Food, had been receiving negative reactions from the public. But it probably won't dent his £347mil personal fortune.

The West End and the London stage in general have been celebrating a successful period for ticket sales. Last year was a record for revenues and attendances, with more than 14 million theatre-goers and gross sales of over £585mil, according to the Society of London Theatre.

Despite the healthy numbers, there have been some major casualties. Lloyd Webber’s Stephen Ward, based on the 1960s Profumo sex scandal, closed after a run of less than four months. Meanwhile, lyricist Tim Rice’s From Here to Eternity, based on the James Jones novel about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, closed the same day as Lloyd Webber’s show after a six-month run. – Reuters

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Entertainment, News, Simon Cowell, West End, X Factor

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