A musical inspired by the Spice Girls premiered last night in London’s West End to overwhelmingly negative reviews. Only the Girls themselves, all five of whom were in attendance for the premiere, could even pretend to have enjoyed it.
The show, called Viva Forever!, is not directly about the Spice Girls, though it claims to be “charged with the energy and attitude of the girls themselves.” Basically their old songs are woven into an original, if unimaginative, story in weird and contrived ways.
The story, written by comedian Jennifer Saunders and produced by Mamma Mia’s Judy Craymer, can be summarized as follows: four teenage girls appear on a reality talent show, which is clearly meant to be the X Factor; they’re deemed insufficiently talented as solo performers so they form a girl group; one of the four is singled out; she goes solo, hits it big, and leaves her former BFF’s to suffer the remainder of their miserable lives steeped in bitterness and squalor. Or something along those lines.
The highlight of the show is apparently the finale, which features a medley of Spice Girls hits … which must have been tricky because I’m pretty sure they only had two.
All five Spices, now middle-aged mamas, attended the premiere. Four of them were excited and energetic, showed up together and sat together. The fifth (see if you can guess which one!) rolled in late, only posed for photos with her family, and then sat with her family instead of the other girls. It’s hard to blame her though … while those girls seem like a lot of fun, they also seem like the types to talk during a show, probably snap their gum … and I would choose to sit next to Becks as well.
At the curtain call, the Spice Girls joined the show’s cast on stage, where the always-classy Mel B declared:
“That was fucking great!”
While it’s sweet that she enoyed the show, it did not receive such positive reviews from the press. The Mail’s review grumpily called it “a prize Christmas turkey” and The Daily Mirror said ‘There is more female empowerment at a Taliban finishing school than in this show.”
While it is awfully shocking that a full-length musical based on really bad music would itself turn out to be really bad, the Spice Girls themselves are nothing short of magic and it’s impossible not to love them (though it’s quite possible not to love their music). It’s a shame that the show didn’t reverse its angle and, instead of developing new characters and a new story using old Spice Girls songs, create a show about the Spice Girls but given them new music.