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Q&A: I Can’t Sing!

First Published 19 March 2014, Last Updated 24 March 2014

Every morning Twitter is being hijacked by talk of what went on the night before. The interval was 45 minutes long! Theatreland has been invaded by singing Vikings! Simon Cowell walked in to rapturous rounds of applause! There’s a talking dog on stage!

Yes, I Can’t Sing!. It hasn’t even opened to the press yet and it is already one of this year’s most talked about productions. But with comedy favourite Harry Hill at the helm and a home in one of the city’s most spectacular theatres, the London Palladium, it’s little wonder why we’re all champing at the bit to discover more about the X-Factor inspired show.

We were thrilled, therefore, when the talented cast members playing a selection of the show’s eager contestants – hilariously desperate in some cases we’d hazard a guess, going by the pictures of the green hot pants pictured above –  Charlie Baker, Cynthia Erivo, Simon Lipkin and Alan Morrissey, agreed to fill us in on what they’re saying yes, pressing their buzzers and awarding a big stamp of approval to in the show.

With the characters including a singing hunchback, a talking dog and a man in an iron lung, we were expecting some eccentric stories but a giant kazoo playing fly? I Can’t Sing!, it looks like you might just have got our vote…

Describe your character in six words.

Baker: Vain, ugly, confident, ridiculous, hip hop (is that two words?).

Erivo: Optimistic, kind, naive, caring, ambitious, unaware.

Lipkin: Talking dog who’s a bit funny.

Morrissey: Eco-friendly ukulele player with big heart.

What has been your favourite moment of the I Can’t Sing! experience so far?

Baker: The first day of the tech. It was a crisp cold day and I left the stage door to get a coffee on Carnaby street and on the way back I had a small chat with one of my comedy heroes/colleagues Harry Hill and had a moment of thrilling self-awareness that I was opening a brand new show at the [London] Palladium.

Erivo: Getting to know the people I’m working with!!

Lipkin: Watching Harry Hill in rehearsals demonstrate how to be a giant fly whilst playing the kazoo to create the lovely little fly voice… it’s the little things.

Morrissey: Right now, my favourite moment is the first time we performed in front of an audience at the Palladium. It was the culmination of so much hard work, and at the same time so many of my teenage dreams were realised in that one performance. The laughter was overwhelming. I say “right now” because I’ve a sneaky suspicion that with this job there will be many more moments.

If you had to audition for a panel of three fantasy judges, who would they be?

Baker: It depends what they are judging me on, but if we’re talking some kind of entertainment I would only really listen to judgement from people who have been in the arena themselves. Let’s say Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Eric Morecambe. Three perfect performers who managed to stay themselves to become successful.

Erivo: Patti LaBelle (when I grow up that’s who I want to be), Steve McQueen (well come on he’s awesome) and Ella Fitzgerald (she’d fix any of my bad habits).

Lipkin: Snoop Doggy Dog; he raps, he’s cool and has the word dog in his name. Pudsey the dog from Britain’s Got Talent – understands the pressures of being a performing dog – and Martine McCutcheon. She sells the hell out of a yoghurt.

Morrissey: I’ve no idea what I’d be auditioning for if these three were put together, but if I got three yeses from Stephen Sondheim, Dennis Kelly and Amy Winehouse I’d know I was doing something right!

Have you ever had any embarrassing moments in an audition?

Baker: Every audition is a bit embarrassing if you don’t get the job. No need to be embarrassed if you’ve prepared properly and done your best though. You just weren’t right for it.

Erivo: I’m not sure this counts but crying all over the director when I found out I’d got the role there and then.

Lipkin: I once realised halfway through an audition for Hello, Dolly! that I was actually auditioning for Oklahoma!… I got neither job.

Morrissey: My first (and last) casting for an advert consisted of several hours of bouncing up and down, dad-dancing in my underwear in front of attractive models with phenomenal bodies (which I didn’t have) and a panel of 12 stone-faced media execs. It’s still the most embarrassing experience of my life.

If you had to be a real life reality star, who would you be?

Baker: Maureen from Driving School, because it was a long time ago and probably doesn’t affect her day to day life any more

Erivo: Nene Leakes of Real Housewives of Atlanta, she is HILARIOUS. I wonder what the world looks like through her eyes!

Lipkin: I think I’d be John and/or Edward from Jedward… It just seems like it would be a simpler life. Alternatively I’d be Louis Walsh, same reason applies.

Morrissey: I think it would be Will Young; he seems to have come off really well. He writes his own songs, acts in good plays and seems like a genuine, nice guy. Also, more importantly, it was so long ago and he’s made such clever choices that we’ve kind of forgotten he was a reality TV star in the first place.

How will you be spending your days during your run at the London Palladium?

Baker: Writing and gigging my 2015 stand-up tour.

Erivo: Writing and recording music, working out and running errands.

Lipkin: You’ll find me in my dressing room, which is essentially a kid’s bedroom! TV, Playstation, gumball machine, laser tag, Nerf guns, comic book posters, stupid toys and gadgets. And Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares just to keep me grounded

Morrissey: Mostly catching up with friends, drinking tea and reading books; it feels like I’ve not done that in ages. And when I’m not doing that I’ll be hanging out with this amazing cast and getting to know them better. I’d like to spend some time with my ukulele – I’ve had to learn to play for this job and now I want to get good at it! Then, knowing me, I’ll probably need something new to keep my creative mind active so I’ll be saying yes to any theatre workshops, radio and TV roles that I can fit in the gaps!

What is your favourite moment in the show?

Baker: All the bits I’m in. 

Erivo: I’m gonna cheat here and give you two:

1) Watching Alan Morrissey perform Song For You. I’m lucky enough to watch him on stage; I just think it’s gorgeous!

2) The buzz I get at the end of [singing] I Can’t Sing. It’s awesome!

Lipkin: Standing at the back of the audience during the second act before I come down watching the whole cast doing Uncomplicated Love on stage… they’re brilliant! 

Morrissey: It’s the moment just before I walk on stage to do my scene with Nigel Harman and Billy Carter. In that moment I know whatever happens next will be completely fresh, unplanned and a whole lot of fun. It’s a scene that always feels brand new. Me and Nigel work really well together and that ability to just play – and try to make each other laugh! – is something I look forward to every night. But it’s the seconds just before the scene that I enjoy the most, as I step out into the unknown hoping that tonight I’ll make him corpse and not the other way round!


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