Jennifer Saunders to pen Spice Girls musical

'Viva Forever' based on songs of the female pop sensation

LONDON -- Comedienne and TV star Jennifer Saunders has been hired to pen a romantic comedy musical "Viva Forever," based on the songs of the 1990s female pop sensation The Spice Girls.

Saunders has been tasked by "Mamma Mia" producer Judy Craymer to pen the stage musical story for what is billed as a "modern fable of camaraderie, love and loyalty."

Craymer said: "Jennifer [Saunders] is brilliant at writing about these themes and the Spice Girls' songs connect powerfully in a smart and moving way."

Saunders is no stranger to girl power or comedy having written and starred in eponymous TV sketch show "French and Saunders" with comedy partner Dawn French.

She also reached international audiences for writing and playing the lead role of Edina Monsoon in the BBC sitcom "Absolutely Fabulous."

And perhaps most relevant of all, Saunders had a cameo in 1998 movie "Spiceworld," alongside the girls.

Said Saunders: "I'm thrilled and terrified at the same time. It is very exciting to be writing a musical that encompasses the music and energy of the biggest girl-band of all time. My daughters grew up with The Spice Girls; I had to write the book for them as well as myself. It has been great fun so far."

Simon Fuller, the Spice Girls' manager, added: "The girls and I are really happy that Jennifer is writing the book. She has really identified and incorporated what the Spice Girls represent to women around the world."

"Viva Forever" is backed by Universal Music, Fuller and The Spice Girls and aims to open in the West End here in 2012.