U.K. Critics Slam Spice Girls Musical 'Viva Forever!'

Some call the London stage production "terrible" and "a prize Christmas turkey," while Rupert Murdoch's "Sun" says it "lived up to all the hype."


LONDON - Tuesday night's London West End debut of Spice Girls musical Viva Forever! at the Piccadilly Theatre has drawn mostly negative reviews.

The Daily Mail tabloid in a harsh review called the musical "a disappointment."
"Spicy? No, it's a prize Christmas turkey," it titled.

The Telegraph's critic said that fans of the Spice Girls better stay at home to listen to their music.

"I’ll tell you what I wanted, what I really, really wanted – I wanted this terrible show to stop," he wrote. "The producer Judy Craymer hit pay dirt with Mamma Mia!, which became a global smash hit. But that show was blessed with a witty and touching script by Catherine Johnson and a raft of perfect pop songs from Abba."

He added: "So cashing in on the Spice Girls’ back catalog must have seemed a no-brainer. In fact, it was a ghastly mistake."

His conclusion: "This is a fatuous show with nothing fresh to say about popular culture and our fixation with fame. If you love the Spice Girls stay at home and listen to their greatest hits."

The Independent criticized a lack of "any true original or challenging spark."
"Forget girl power, what you really, really want from this show is more silly moments," it said.

The Daily Mirror tabloid called the plot "cliched" and the dialog "leaden,"adding that "laughs...are surprisingly few and far between."

Concluded the paper: "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."

The Sun, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., was the exception, giving the show a good review and arguing that it "lived up to all the hype." 

Its reviewer lauded the script from Absolutely Fabulous creator Jennifer Saunders, saying that "the show flows really well."

The Guardian lauded the show's cast for being "largely great" and added that the musical "zips along cheerily enough."

But it criticized the Spice Girls' "appalling lyrics," arguing that the group had not produced "enough memorable hits...to support two hours of theatre."

The paper's mixed-at-best review also said: "The show's best and funniest moment comes when it opts to mock the material it has to work with. Sung with a lot of mugging by a nervous middle-aged couple on the verge of consummating their relationship, the runny ballad ‘2 Become 1’ becomes authentically hilarious."

Concluded the Guardian: "Compared with [Queen musical] We Will Rock You, it's a work of untrammeled genius. Faint praise perhaps, but never mind: judging by the crowds of thirtysomething ladies leaving the theatre singing ‘Stop and Say You'll Be There’, Viva Forever! is critic-proof."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai