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"X Factor" musical booted off stage at London's West End

Source: Reuters - Mon, 28 Apr 2014 09:55 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Musical parody of hit TV show to close after six weeks

* Show is latest in series of expensive, big-name flops

* West End can be unpredictable - production company CEO

By Michael Roddy

LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) - "X Factor" guru Simon Cowell has become the latest big name in showbusiness to suffer an expensive pratfall in London's West End with the announcement on Monday that the musical "I Can't Sing!" which he co-produced will close after a six-week run.

The demise of the musical parody of the TV talent contest, which reportedly cost 6 million pounds ($10 million) to produce, comes hard on the heels of the closures of musicals by long-time West End and Broadway hotshots Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

It also follows the expensive fiasco in 2012 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, 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."

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 585 million pounds, according to the Society of London Theatre.

But despite that 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.

His erstwhile lyricist 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.

($1 = 0.5948 British pounds) (Editing by Pravin Char)

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