Critics pan "charmless" Spice Girls musical

Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:10am EST
 
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters) - They came, they saw, but sadly Britain's music critics largely failed to enjoy Tuesday night's revival of girl power at the world premiere of the Spice Girls' musical "Viva Forever!"

Reviewers panned a production loosely based on the band's meteoric rise to fame in the 1990s, complaining that its "charmless" script failed even as a basic invention for folding nostalgic pop hits into a West End stage show.

Independent newspaper critic Paul Taylor said the show "only achieves the kind of deliriously silly and joyous lift-off" at its encore and blamed scriptwriter Jennifer Saunders.

"Not only does her script rarely give you that necessary gleeful sense of expectancy about where the songs are going to be shoe-horned in, but it's embarrassingly derivative of 'Mamma Mia!' and looks way past its sell-by date in its utterly surprise-free satiric swipe at X Factor."

"Viva Forever!" was the brainchild of producer Judy Craymer, whose Mamma Mia! musical based on the hits of ABBA has earned nearly $2 billion worldwide and spawned a hit movie starring Meryl Streep.

She teamed up with British comedian Saunders of "Absolutely Fabulous" fame to create a story about the central character, Viva, a sprightly teenager who, along with her friends, gets into the final stages of a TV singing contest closely resembling Britain's "The X Factor".

To boost flagging audience figures - a nod to "The X Factor"s real-life ratings woes in Britain this season - their mentor springs a surprise and throws out three members of the band to leave Viva on her own.

What follows is part morality tale examining what is more important - friends, family or fame - and part satire on reality television, including a callous producer bearing an uncanny resemblance to X-Factor's Simon Cowell.   Continued...

 
Spice Girl members Melanie Brown (R-L), Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton and Melanie Chisholm arrive for the premiere of the musical "Viva Forever!", based on the music of the Spice Girls, in central London December 11, 2012. REUTERS/Toby Melville