Viva Forever! The Spice Girls Musical

Previewed 27 November 2012, Opened 11 December 2012, Closed 29 June 2013 at the Piccadilly Theatre in London

The new 'Spice Girls' musical Viva Forever! in London featuring Hannah John-Kamen and Sally Ann Triplett and written by Jennifer Saunders.

The musical Viva Forever! tells the story of a beautiful, talented girl and her best friends who get swept up in the obsession of today's TV celebrity culture. As she follows her dream, the musical charts her journey into the world of overnight fame and its impact on her relationships with her mother and the friends she thought she'd have forever. From London to Spain and back again, as they confront the bitter reality of fame and as the world judges her, she and her mother learn to empower themselves and be who they really want to be.

This is a contemporary comedy musical about family, friendship and trying to stay true to yourself in a world where everyone craves instant fame and will grab it at any price... a world where fortunes change on the click of an iPhone or the whim of a TV talent show host. This stage musical has the support and backing of the Spice Girls. Viva Forever! is written by Jennifer Saunders with songs from the Spice Girls. It is directed by Paul Garrington with choreography by Lynne Page, designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Howard Harrison and sound by Bobby Aitken.

"I'll tell you what I wanted, what I really, really wanted. I wanted some grown-up girl power, in the shape of Jennifer Saunders' story based on the Spice Girls' hits, produced by Mamma Mia!'s Judy Craymer. Alas, in Viva Forever! you wait and you wait for that zig-a-zig-ah climax, and it doesn't happen until the very last number when lead character Viva is supposed to be singing for her place in the final of Starmaker, an X Factor-style television show on which Saunders has hung her dismal plot. Viva throws away her hairpiece, steps off her heels and tells us she wants to be reunited with the three girls who were dismissed when Simone, the Sharon Osbourne-esque witch of a judge, told her she must go it alone. And on they come, bouncing with the energy and wattage that has been lacking for the past, very flat, very dull two hours. The reason for the ignition is simple: it's Wannabe as it was meant to be sung, by a band of supercharged hopefuls living the dream." The Mail on Sunday

"You would think it would be easy to strap the songs of one of the biggest girl groups in recent history to an exuberant story of girl power to create a worldwide money-making machine. But you would be wrong. In a plot eerily similar to the Take That musical Never Forget, we see four-piece girl group Eternity on the verge of stardom through the Starseekers TV talent show. But then judge Simone tells singer Viva to dump her threemates, go solo and make it big, which of course she does... It's a shame a talented cast, especially Hannah John-Kamen's Viva and the rest of Eternity, are let down by a cliched plot and leaden dialogue. Viva Forever? More like clapped-out Vauxhall Viva, five careless owners with too many miles on the clock." The Daily Mirror

"Miles of neon, a rotating set, funky choreography and a ten-piece band have been thrown at it, and Jennifer Saunders wrote the book... A few decent Ab-Fabby jokes turn up in scenes with the TV people... Saunders attempts some heart-warming with the single adoptive mother living on a houseboat (Sally Ann Triplett), and does achieve a few funny moments thanks to the marvellous Lucy Montgomery as her sexier friend. But it's still scrappy, lazy, clichéd and inconclusive. Even the end makes no sense, suggesting no jeopardy, choice or sacrifice." The Times

Jennifer Saunders, who wrote the book for Viva Forever said: "It sounds dangerous saying the musical is relevant for our time, doesn't it? You worry that it could fall flat on its face. But it had to be about now and not be set in the past and be based on nostalgia. The contrast of what girl groups are now is still relevant to us all. It's interesting. How totally manufactured they've become is extraordinary. Look at Little Minx, or Little Mix or whatever they are. Initially they appealed to girls when they went on X Factor and they looked like normal girls. When I saw them recently they looked like vamps. What had happened to them? It was a shame. I liked the girls looking like girls." Regarding what reception the stage musical will have, she says: "I'm always nervous about the critics a bit, but nowadays critics are slightly less relevant because of the internet, blogging and Twitter," she says. "The general feeling for the Spice Girls is so good I don't think anybody would not enjoy it. It's a pretty good show, even if I do say so myself. I want this to hit the target audience. I want it to have a broad spectrum of viewers. A friend of mine brought her 73-year-old mother the other night who has never really heard a Spice Girls song and she cried all the way through. So that's a good sign. People don't actually realise how incredible the Spice Girls pop songs were. They are genius."

Viva Forever! in London at the Piccadilly Theatre previewed from 27 November 2012, opened on 11 December 2012 and closed on 29 June 2013.