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.

The cast features Hannah John-Kamen as 'Viva', Sally Ann Triplett as 'Lauren', Sally Dexter as 'Simone', Anthony Topham as 'Lance', Ben Cura as 'Angel', Bill Ward as 'Johnny', Charlotte Gorton as 'Consuela', Dominique Provost-Chalkley as 'Holly', Hatty Preston as 'Minty', Lucy Montgomery as 'Suzi', Lucy Phelps as 'Diamond', Simon Adkins as 'Leon', Simon Slater as 'Mitch', Siobhan Athwal as 'Luce', Tamara Wall as 'Karen', Carla Nella, Charlotte Walcott, Curtis Angus, Darren Carnall, David Rudin, Helen Ternent, Kirstie Skivington, Lia Give, Lucy Thatcher, Luke Jackson, Myles Brown, Oliver Roll, Rebecca McKinnis, Roxanne Palmer, Sophie Carmen-Jones, Tom Kanavan, and Zak Nemorin.

Directed by Paul Garrington with choreography by Lynne Page, designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Howard Harrison, music by Martin Koch, and sound by Bobby Aitken.

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."

Sally Dexter's London theatre credits include 'The White Witch' in Rupert Goold's revival of C S Lewis' The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at the ThreeSixty Theatre in Kensington Gardens in 2012; 'Mother Superior' in Peter Schneider's production of the Alan Menken and Glenn Slater musical Sister Act at the London Palladium in 2010; 'Yvonne Atkins' in Maggie Norris' production of Kath Gotts' Bad Girls the Musical at the Garrick Theatre in 2007; 'Mrs Wilkinson' in Stephen Daldry's production of the Elton John and Lee Hall musical Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 2006; 'Nicky' in Harold Pinter's production of Simon Gray's Old Masters at the Comedy Theatre in 2004; 'The White Witch' in Adrian Noble's revival of C S Lewis' The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at Sadler's Wells Theatre in 2000; 'Lady Macbeth' in John Crowley's revival of William Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Queen's Theatre in 1999; 'Anna' in Patrick Marber's production of his play Closer at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre and Lyttelton Theatre in 1997; 'Nancy' in Sam Mendes' revival of Lionel Bart's Oliver! at the London Palladium in 1994; 'Helen' in Sam Mendes' revival of William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida at the Barbican Pit Theatre in 1991; 'Juno' in Peter Hall's revival of William Shakespeare's The Tempest at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre and Olivier Theatre in 1988; and the ensemble in Peter Wood's revival of Arthur Miller's The American Clock at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre and Olivier Theatre in 1986.

Sally Ann Triplett's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Donna Sheridan' in Phyllida Lloyd's production of Catherine Johnson's ABBA musical Mammia Mia! at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2009, 2011, and 2012; 'Roxie Hart' in Walter Bobbie's revival of the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre in 2005; 'Miss Berta' in Trevor Nunn's production of Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques the Musical at the Haymarket Theatre in 2005; 'Reno Sweeney' in Trevor Nunn's revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 2002, and transfer to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2003; 'Ruby Keeler' in Rob Bettinson's production of the Francis Essex and Rob Bettinson musical Jolson at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1995; 'Rizzo' in David Gilmore's revival of the Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey musical Grease at the Dominion Theatre in 1993; and 'Margie' in Mike Ackrent's production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1987.

"I'll tell you what I wanted, what I really, really wanted. I wanted some grown-up girl power... 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 Spice Girls songs may be a tad mechanical, but Posh, Scary, Sporty, Baby and Ginger had enough girl power to set a stage alight. Put the songs in the mouths of sad, jaded, middle-aged caricatures, and they become barely recognisable bleating... Saunders comes up with the odd funny line, though the majority are about being fat, but there's a distinct sourness where there should have been satire." 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

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