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Simon Cowell Backs ‘X Factor’ Tuner

U.K. comedian Harry Hill pens book

LONDON — “The X Factor” production company Syco (Simon Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment) has teamed with legit producers Stage Entertainment U.K. to lampoon its multi-territory TV talent search in a new West End tunerX Factor — It’s Time to Face the Musical,” which is aiming for a spring 2014 world preem.

Billed as “irreverent and anarchic,” the “affectionate” show follows an improbable love story about a heroine with a talking dog and a ukulele-playing plumber. The book is by triple BAFTA-winning comedian Harry Hill, who has co-written the lyrics with composer Steve Brown (“Spend Spend Spend”). The show is helmed by Sean Foley (“The Play What I Wrote”), whose hit production of “The Ladykillers” is touring the U.K. prior to its West End return run at the Vaudeville theater from June 29.

Choreographed by Kate Prince, designed by Es Devlin (London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony), the tuner features lighting by Hugh Vanstone (“Ghost — The Musical,” “Matilda”).

“The X Factor” launched in the U.K. in 2004 on ITV1. The 2011 finale, performed live in front of an audience of 12,000, was the most watched entertainment TV show of the year. 2012 winner James Arthur’s debut single was the U.K.‘s fastest selling single of the year. Launched on Fox in 2011, the U.S. version airs in 166 countries with local versions of the show now produced in more than 42 territories with the format selling more than 100 million records worldwide.

In other West End production news, Lenny Henry leads the cast in the West End transfer of Paulette Randall’s feted new production of August Wilson’s 1983 Pulitzer and Tony-winner “Fences.” Currently on a U.K. tour, the production plays a strictly limited engagement at the Duchess Theater (June 19-Sept. 14) prior to the transfer of Chichester Festival Theater’s “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.”

Brit legit fave Simon Russell Beale and John Simm (“Life on Mars”) will lead helmer Jamie Lloyd’s West End revival of “The Hothouse” (May 4-Aug. 3). As previously announced in Variety, Harold Pinter’s dark comedy is the second in Lloyd and producer Howard Panter’s Trafalgar Transformed season at ATG’s Trafalgar Studios, which opened Feb. 22 with “Macbeth.” The 11-week production starring James McAvoy sold out less than a week after opening. The season is also skedded to include Alexi Kaye Campbell’s “Apologia” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins.”

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