'Tawdry' Spice Girls musical unlikely to 'viva' very long

Dec 12, 2012

The group gave the world 'girl power', but its hit songs can't save this unedifying musical

THEY introduced the world to 'girl power', but the Spice Girls musical Viva Forever would struggle to illuminate a small shed, let alone a West End theatre, if early reviews are any indication.  

"I'll tell you what I wanted, what I really, really wanted – I wanted this terrible show to stop," writes The Daily Telegraph's Charles Spencer in a damning appropriation of the lyrics to one of the British girl group's biggest hits.
Despite the show's impeccable pedigree – it's produced by Judy Craymer who turned Abba's songbook into the global stage hit Mamma Mia! - Viva Forever is "tawdry, lazy and unedifying".

Even if you worshipped Scary, Sporty, Posh, Baby and Ginger for their music and the fact they were "fun and full of beans," a visit to the show at London's Piccadilly Theatre is unlikely to Spice Up Your Life, says Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail.

The show is "drudgy, sour and focused on failure" says Letts, who believes it was a mistake to let comedian Jennifer Saunders write the story. "Miss Saunders is a wiseacre ironist, so default-sneery that she will not stoop to admitting the heart (sentimentalism if you must) which can make a musical sing," writes Letts.

Add some "iffy performances, gloomy backdrops and a lamentably slow start" and you have all the makings of "a notable West End flop".

Viva Forever has have taken £4 million in advance bookings, writes Paul Taylor in The Independent, but it's unlikely to repeat the success of Mamma Mia! He is unimpressed by Saunders's "charmless, messy, lacklustre book" and says the Spice Girls's songs are "better at projecting an attitude" than "fleshing out a dramatic situation".

The show only achieves the "deliriously silly and joyous lift-off" you'd expect during the encore when the company dances up a storm to Spice Up Your Life, writes Taylor.

There's a glimmer of encouragement from The Guardian where music critic Alexis Petrides praises the cast even though they have "caricatures not characters to work with". The producers will be clinging to Petrides's observation that Viva Forever is a "work of untrammelled genius" compared to We Will Rock You - but it's faint praise given that he loathes the Ben Elton-penned Queen musical.

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