Viva Forever! – Reliving the Spice Girls years

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Wednesday 27th June 2012

Seeing the Spice Girls reunited to promote the new musical based on their songs was like stepping back in time.

In the mid-1990s, when Posh, Scary, Sporty, Ginger and Baby were at the height of their fame, my daughter and her friends were captivated by them. No party was complete without Wannabe and Spice Up Your Life belting out of the CD player (I know, it was a long time ago) and the primary school playground was full of little girls discussing which Spice Girl was their favourite. Sadly, Melanie Chisholm (aka Sporty) never featured because she wore boring tracksuits whereas the others all got glitter, sparkles and Union Jack dresses.

But when the Spice Girls assembled yesterday I reckoned Melanie C and Emma Bunton looked the happiest by a long chalk. Melanie Brown and Geri Halliwell were still trying to be the stars of the show, while Victoria Beckham, now a hot-shot fashion designer who counts Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes among her best pals, looked like she didn’t want to be there at all. Once the launch was over she headed straight back to LA to tuck her baby daughter Harper in. “I’d love to stay and hang out with the girls but I’m desperate to see her before she goes to bed,” she said.

The Spice Girls are all in their late 30s now and won’t actually feature in Viva Forever!, the musical that’s been created by producer Judy Craymer and written by comedienne Jennifer Saunders. The show, which Saunders wanted to do because her three daughters loved the Spice Girls when they were growing up, weaves the band’s songs into a drama about a girl called Viva who is swept into the world of instant celebrity.

Actually, if I got my way I’d give Melanie C a part in it straight away. I saw her in Blood Brothers a few years ago and she was sensational. Aside from her sporty tracksuits, jaunty pony-tail and onstage back flips, Melanie C was best known for being the only Spice Girl who could actually sing. Well, she can act too. She grew up on Merseyside and was utterly compelling as Mrs Johnstone, the hard-pressed Liverpudlian mum who agrees to give one of her twin sons away.

I’ve seen Willy Russell’s wonderful play several times during its 29-year history but Melanie C knocked spots off the other actresses I’ve seen in the part. Her voice was stunning and she had exactly the right blend of toughness and vulnerability to make the character believable. 

Viva Forever! opens in London in December and is set to be a smash hit. I’m definitely going to book tickets and take my daughter with me…


8 comments so far

  • Sounds a fun production.

    I saw Barbara Dickson in Blood Brothers. The part was actually written for her, but she was getting over larygitis on the night that I went, but I could tell how good she might have been had she been fit.

    Liz X

  • Never really got the Spice Girls. Obviously FA too old when they came on the scene. My daughters tho’… I’m sure that’s why they’re both so good a back flips. Not because they admired Mel C sadly but because it was the one aspect of the Spice Girls they could truly emulate.

  • Oh, you stirred up some memories (Spice Girls and Blood Brothers – remember that with Kiki Dee?) with another great post. Yes, Mel C could sing! I took son and daughter to see The Spice Girls when son/daughter were 11 and 8, I think in 1997 or 1998, at Wembley Arena. The show was amazing; we had such a great time. Gerry had to clamber around giant blocks on stage wearing the trademark Union Jack dress with the world’s highest and clumpiest platform shoes. She stumbled once or twice but took it in her stride. Posh did no such thing. And most of the audience seemed to be mums like me who’d brought along mini-Spice girls/daughters with them. Such a fun concert. My son still loves them and will be one of the first to see the new show.

  • I’ve seen Barbara Dickson, Linda Nolan and Mel C in the part and they were all good, but I think Mel C was my favourite because she was so utterly believable. Writing about BB makes me want to go and see it again!

  • I’m so impressed that your DDs can do back flips! Could they teach me some time? I never got the Spice Girls either, though I do like Mel C’s voice.

  • Hi Tessa. Thank you so much for your comment. Writing about the Spice Girls and BB makes me feel nostalgic too. And I might see you at Viva Forever! because I heard Jennifer Saunders talking about it and think I’ll love it. My DD is keen to see it too and has promised to come with me.

  • Oh, I am now brimming with excitement on your and your DD’s behalf – that’s fantastic! You will LOVE it! I just know it, especially when written by Jennifer Saunders. There has never been a crappy thing to that woman’s name, imo!

    My DD is graduating on Friday from Emma, Cambridge and I’m very happy & proud – I know it’s not very British to celebrate success – that she got a 2x1st in Mod Langs. I was thinking what we could do to celebrate – apart from the lunch before gradn ceremony and meal later that day – i.e. just me and her. We had a spa day.

    So, of COURSE, it must be Viva Forever for us! I think I shall book up and quickly! Embarrassing rash of exclamation marks. Ooops, please excuse my elated fervour! I hope you both have a wonderful and nostalgic time 🙂

  • That is so fantastic, Tessa/Heather! You must be incredibly proud of her and I hope you have a fantastic day on Friday. I think Viva Forever opens in Nov or Dec so can’t wait to see it.

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