Tonight is the premiere of the musical inspired by the Spice Girls’ music, VIVA FOREVER!
Previews have been on for a few weeks and have received mixed reviews. Here are some random views from Twitter:
Nigel Botterill @nigelbotterill
Thoroughly recommend Viva Forever. Very well written & crafted. Great fun night out. Really enjoyed it… _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
@KLouSummerside indeed! They murdered the songs and the story is beyond bad. We left before the end, which I rarely do. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Kacey Hatt @KC_Lily
Viva Forever was amaaaazing!! _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Sophie Green @Lafashionfolie
Just been to see Viva Forever the musical.. Hate to say it, but Viva ForNever! It was rubbish. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Ok, well, you can’t please everyone and you don’t have to. Interestingly, people I know who know theater and who are intelligent Spice Girls fans, not ones who will drop to their knees at the very mention of anything Spice related, haven’t loved it. I think it’s complex having others singing the songs, and the story is undeniably cute but frothy and sorta obvious. But, again, I haven’t seen it and these are just reviews given to me by people who have and whose opinions I trust. It surprises me. I can imagine it to be loads of fun if you go in without great expectations and just enjoy! I don’t think this is a musical the reviews will kill. It’s rather critic proof having already taken in almost 4 million GBP in advanced sales. But that’s not a guarantee for the success of a show like Mamma Mia! In fact, those doing press for the show have already cut this notion off at the pass – guess their just making sure the bases are covered.
During the two weeks of previews there have been some changes made – songs that go with certain parts of the story changed slightly, part of the story that’s been lacking being pumped up, songs cut, added, things moved around, the norm; the whole point of having previews! What remains, of course, are the songs (well, most of them!). The Spice Girls are a band that will live on in pop record books forever because of their achievements as a female band, their slogan ‘girl power’ and what it meant at the time in the entertainment world, to feminism and frankly, as the most successful manufacturing, marketing and merchandising of a band. It was all completely brilliant.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty of marketing and merchandising here as well. See all the clothing, iphone covers, mugs and umbrellas for sale http://vivaforeverstore.com/london/index.php. Also, you can have afternoon tea at Harvey Nicks and have the Viva Forever! experience http://www.vivaforeverthemusical.com/HNafternoontea/. Hey tourists, come a calling!
But I’m burying the lead. The purpose of this post is to celebrate the songwriters – the men who, along with the Girls, wrote these memorable pop songs. Andy Watkins and Paul Wilson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_%28production_team%29, Biff Stannard and Matt Rowe http://www.biffco.co.uk/and Eliot Kennedy http://www.steelworksstudios.com/. Yes, the girls contributed to the songs, bits and bobs, but the Spice Girls music would not be still playing and as memorably without these gentlemen. After all, in the new musical, a whole new cast of characters are singing the songs – not Sporty, Baby, Scary, Ginger and Posh. So, the songs travel, and hopefully they travel well.
Of course the band was memorable – their moxie, their antics, the drama, the personas, the break-ups, the reunions, the continual selling of the band over and over again – trying to hold on to that last bit of, let’s face it, the memory, “forever-ness” and millions of dollars. Yes, they are fun to watch, of course, the Spice Girls are a special group and they do love to keep the dream of another reunion alive for the fans, but as I’ve said before, really it’s rather dull. Get on with your lives ladies, and continue to build your identities as something other than being a member of this band. It’s rather uncomfortable to listen to these women continue to live in the past, as memorable as it was, every few months or so. I applaud them all for what they achieved. It was indeed remarkable.
I love musicals but I don’t really care to hear the Spice Girls songs sung by anyone other than them. The book sounds cheesy and I’m sure it’s a good laugh as written by the brilliant Jennifer Saunders, of whom I’m a huge fan but the idea of the show doesn’t excite me. I don’t care about seeing all five girls together in one place on opening night, nor two girls, nor even one girl. I know there are fans who are more excited about seeing these women in a room together than they should admit but other than picking apart who wore what, it’s a non-event for me. I would imagine the songwriters might be a little worried – their songs were perfect for the girls themselves to sing but will they translate as well in mash-ups and without the Spice Girls themselves singing them? I guess it remains to be seen. Hopefully, everyone is very talented and the songs maintain their legendary status in the pop world.
As usual, what I want to do here, and I did it on the day the musical was announced, June 26th, is to remind everyone of the Spice Boys, the writers of the Spice Girls music, of many of the girls solo work as well, and the later release, Headlines, and Voodoo for their Reunion tour. These guys are actually the legacy at the Piccadilly Theater. It’s their music, not the girls performing it on stage that people will be hearing. This is an exciting thing for them – certainly the possibilities of financial gain are good and their songs will be heard, potentially, if the show continues on for a while, in many countries, sung by many other performers, in many languages, just as producer Judy Craymer’s previous show “Mamma Mia” did. But not by the Spice Girls. Does that matter? It very well might if they’re serious and care less about fame and the lights of the West End than the legacy of how their songs are heard.
Biff Stannard has been a consultant on the show and he and Matt Rowe have a bulk of songs in mix as do Andy Watkins and Paul Wilson (Absolute) at about 8-9 songs performed. Seeing as the show isn’t about the Spice Girls and is inspired by their music and these are the music men, shouldn’t they be getting their time on the magic red carpet? Well, I hope they do, in whatever form it brings to them. I hope they are proud and gain a great deal from the show. No one other than karaoke fans have sung these songs before and it’s not the magnetism of the Spice Girls themselves singing them, which has always added a great deal to the pop brilliance. I believe the members of Abba, who wrote their own songs alone demanded that no changes to songs were made when the show Mamma Mia was created. I hope the same has been considered for Viva Forever!
I do maintain the specialness of the band as well as the need to put it to rest. The Olympics, now a West End show, whether it will continue on to Broadway, etc… who knows – but ladies, and some have moved on – continue with your journey. Nothing will ever top being a Spice Girl in your professional music lives and you will have fans who turn up when you show up anywhere but move onwards and let the music stand on its own. Good luck with the reviews and let it play. Let it take its path and most of all, whatever happens, salute the men who helped make it happen more than anyone else. Not Chris and Bob Herbert, not even Simon Fuller, but the writers of your songs that stand alone and still do almost 20 years down the line. They are the Spice Boys and Spice Boys never die.