October 25, 2014 | Updated at 12:15 PM EDT The Latest Entertainment & Celebrity News

Critics Pan 'Charmless' Spice Girls Musical

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!"

By Paul Casciato, Reuters on Dec 13, 2012 10:10 AM EST
facebook tweet this pin it plus
Sign Up for Newsletter
  • 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 Londo
  • 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. (Photo : Reuters)

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.

EMPOWERMENT

Both the Mirror and the Daily Mail delivered damning criticism of a production, which the Mirror's Alun Palmer said particularly failed to deliver on the grand message that formed a key part of every Spice Girl's identity: "girl power".

"There is more female empowerment at a Taliban finishing school than in this show," Palmer wrote.

The Spice Girls, Geri Halliwell, Victoria Beckham, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton and Melanie Chisholm, who together stormed the charts in the 1990s and put girl power on the map were all on hand at the Piccadilly Theatre for the London premiere.

British tabloids made a good deal of noise out of the fact that Beckham arrived after her ex-bandmates and sat with her soccer star husband David and three sons, who clapped along to the music during the final medley.

Now all young mothers in their late 30s and early 40s, The Spice Girls are still affectionately known by their nicknames they adopted in the band - Posh (Beckham), Scary (Brown), Baby (Bunton), Sporty (Chisholm) and Ginger (Halliwell).

They were hailed as modern-day feminists by some and dismissed as vacuous pop princesses by others, but their success is beyond doubt. They sold 55 million records, had nine British No. 1 singles and three back-to-back Christmas No. 1s.

Unabashed fan Poppy Cosyns, was one of the few critics to gush enthusiastically about the show in her review for the Sun.

"As a true fan, I was worried that the jukebox musical formula might not work with their songs but Jennifer Saunders has done a great job with the script and the show flows really well," she wrote.

The band broke up around 12 years ago, their bickering eagerly chronicled by Britain's celebrity-obsessed tabloids.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the bust-ups and hissy fits, the group has been united in its backing of the new musical, and underlining the Spice Girls' lasting popularity, they played a major part in the closing ceremony at the London Olympics.

The Guardian's Alexis Petridis compared it favorably only to the "baleful shadow" of Ben Elton's Queen-themed "We Will Rock You" musical.

"It would be nice if, metaphorically speaking, it pinched Prince Charles's bum a few more times," he wrote. "Still, it zips along cheerily enough, and compared with We Will Rock You, it's a work of untrammeled genius."

Despite its flaws, Petridis said the show's success will lie in the hands of the legions of fans who propelled the Spice Girls to the top of the charts in the first place.

"Faint praise perhaps, but never mind: judging by the crowds of thirty-something ladies leaving the theatre singing 'Stop and Say You'll Be There', Viva Forever! is critic-proof." 

© 2014 Enstarz, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Tagged :   Spice Girls
facebook tweet this pin it plus
Contribute to this Story send us a tip send us a tip send us a tip
Sign Up for Newsletters

Around The Web

  • SEARCH ENSTARS

Drake

14 Drake Songs To Get You Through "Cuffing Season," Alone

It's Drake's birthday. Let's celebrate with a "Cuffing Season" playlist.

Mike Fisher and Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood's Tour Slowing Down This Fall

Country superstar Carrie Underwood spent the summer touring and working on her new album, but this fall the mother-to-be is slowing things down.

Benzino and Stevie J

Benzino Calls Out Stevie J & Joseline Hernandez For Faking Pregnancy, Warns Fans To 'Pay Attention'

Love & Hip Hop Atlanta star Benzino has thrown quite a bit of shade at his former friend Stevie J and said that the producer's claim that he and his wife Joseline Hernandez are expecting a child is a fake ploy for attention.

FKA Twigs

Robert Pattinson's Rumored New Girlfriend Is Extremely Flexible In Creepy Video, Watch It Here

It sounds like Robert Pattinson may have proven himself to be an even luckier man since his rumored girlfriend appeared in a commercial that shows off some of her wildest talents.

Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert Are Making Country Music History

Married country music stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert have a lot to celebrate this week.

Mattie Breaux of 'Party Down South'

'Party Down South' Star Mattie Breaux Injured In A Four-Wheeling Accident--Find Out How She's Doing!

Her drunken alter ego has gotten her into some trouble before on Party Down South, but this time Mattie Breaux is being forced to deal with something that can't be blamed on Martha.

Austin Mahone

Austin Mahone Tours Puerto Rico, As Camila Cabello & Fifth Harmony Wow Arizona

Did Fifth Harmony miss Austin Mahone? While Mahone was busy flying to Puerto Rico for the next stop on his South American tour, the girl group was busy in Arizona for the first time without being the opener.

Actor Tip "T.I." Harris arrives at the premiere of "Takers" in Los Angeles, California, August 4, 2010.

Rapper T.I. Responds To Raven Symone's 'I'm Not An African-American' Comment, 'I Think She Has An Incredible Point'

After television star Raven Symone made a comment on the word 'African-American' during her interview with Oprah Winfrey that sparked some controversy, rapper T.I. was asked about this where he revealed why he thinks the actress actually makes a good point on this.

Donnie Wahlberg and Jenny McCarthy

Donnie Wahlberg Slams Rumors That His Family Hates Jenny McCarthy

Reports continue to claim that Donnie Wahlberg's family has problems with his new wife Jenny McCarthy, but the New Kids on the Block singer and Blue Bloods star is fighting back against the rumors.

Carrie Underwood

Take A Look Behind Carrie Underwood's "Something In The Water"

Before Carrie Underwood announced that she was pregnant in September, she sat down with Chris Destefano and wrote the first single for her highly anticipated 2014 album 'Greatest Hits: Decade #1'.

Dance Moms

Is Abby Lee Miller Taking Her Dance Studio Overseas?

It looks as though Abby Lee Miller and her dance company is getting bigger than we previously imagined.

LeBron James and Savannah Brinson

LeBron James' Wife, 'Anxious' Savannah, Shares Due Date For Couple's Child Via Instagram

Wife of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James might have revealed her due date for the couple's third child.

T.I. and Wife Tiny

T.I. Reveals Reaction To Tiny's 'What You Gon Do' 'Comedy,' Disses Her Best Friend

T.I. has finally given fans a little more insight on what he thinks about his wife, Tiny's single about him cheating on her.

Bethenny Frankel

Bethenny Frankel Confirms Her Return To 'The Real Housewives Of New York'

After weeks of speculation, Bethenny Frankel has finally confirmed that she is returning to Bravo's 'The Real Housewives of New York,' despite the fact that she quit the show back in 2010.

Drake

Listent to Drake's New Song, 'How About Now'

Check out Drake's new songs, "How About Now?"

Latest News

Mama June

Mama June Spotted With Sex Offender Last Month Despite Denial

Although Mama June denied seeing Mark McDaniel since he was imprisoned 10 years ago, the two were photographed together one month ago.

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling Has Been Spotted For The First Time Since Becoming A Father, See How He Looks These Days

He stayed out of sight for over a month, but Ryan Gosling is finally making public appearances again following the birth of his daughter Esmeralda Amada.

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey: 'I'm Enjoying My Career Now More Than Ever'

Matthew McConaughey's upcoming film about a journey beyond the stars may as well be about the Texas actor's own stratospheric career these days.

Kate Gosselin

Is Kate Gosselin Having Money Problems?

It looks as though Jon Gosselin isn't the only person having a difficult time making ends meet these days.

Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney

Friends Say Wife Amal Is "Perfect" For George Clooney

It looks as though this was definitely a match made in heaven.

Justin Theroux Jennifer Aniston

Justin Theroux Compared To Brad Pitt

Jennifer Aniston can consider herself a very lucky woman, because according to many people out there, she's dated some of the most handsome men Hollywood has ever seen.

Tori Spelling

Tori Spelling Calls Emily Goodhand 'Unattractive'

It looks like Tori Spelling definitely doesn't like what she sees.

Jill Duggar

Jill Duggar Opens Up About Her Pregnancy And Possibly Adopting

It looks as though Jill Duggar is definitely thinking about having her own Duggar-like family, just like her parents.

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington Opens Up About Her Biggest Secrets

Her on screen character Olivia Pope might not be one to kiss and tell, but apparently Kerry Washington doesn't have any problems telling the world her best-kept secrets.

Bethenny Frankel

Bethenny Frankel Negotiated Her Return To Reality TV For Months

Bethenny Frankel might have made it sound like she she wasn't ready to return to the Real Housewives of New York, but according to a new report she was negotiating her contract behind the scenes for months.

Featured Videos

From Our Partners

Kyle Richards, Yolanda Foster, Kim Richards and Lisa Vanderpump

'RHOBH' Season Five: Cast Dishes On The 'Intense' Drama That Is To Come [VIDEO]

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' fifth season is sure to be one to remember -- at least according to its stars.

Golnesa

'Shahs Of Sunset' Season Four: Cast Members Attend Life & Style Event In Los Angeles [VIDEO]

The stars of Shahs Of Sunset showed their support for Life & Style on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Scheana Marie

'Vanderpump Rules' Cast: Bravo Stars Attend Life & Style 10-Year Anniversary Bash [VIDEO]

The cast of Vanderpump Rules hit the red carpet in Los Angeles this week.

Microsoft

Microsoft Lumia Phones Will Officially Drop Nokia Name, First Branding Images Released

Microsoft is officially dropping the Nokia name from the Lumia line of devices, showing off the first glimpse of the Microsoft Lumia brand today.

Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakistan vs Australia 2014 Live Streaming Cricket: Watch '1st Test, Day 4' Online @ 6:00AM BST

Pakistan is in firm control of the first Test match against Australia will look to build a bigger lead on Day 4 on Saturday at 2:00 a.m. ET. Live stream the match by clicking this link.

AS Roma

SAMPDORIA vs. AS ROMA Live Stream FREE Online: 2014 Serie A Table, Live Coverage From Genoa, Projected Lineups and TACTICAL PREVIEW

Two clubs in the top half of the Serie A table will do battle today in a league match between Sampdoria and AS Roma. The first-division clash scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET will be held at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa and can be live streamed here free. Additional TV coverage can be found on beIN Sports.

Saw

Saw Returns To Theaters Halloween For Limited 10th Anniversary Re-Release: Is Saw 8 Coming 2015?

The iconic horror series of the 2000s is coming back next week for a limited, week long engagement across the nation in honor of its 10th anniversary. Might we also hear any more news about the long rumored Saw VIII?

John Harris

Texas vs. Kansas State Watch FREE Live Stream Online & Listen NCAA Football 2014 Week 9 [ODDS]

The No. 11 Kansas State Cougars have a huge matchup with the No. 10 TCU Horned Frogs on November 8, but first they have to avoid the upset against a Texas Longhorn team that is bound to upset someone.

Real Time Analytics