When I was given the opportunity to go down to London and see Viva Forever! at The Piccadilly Theatre, the 12 year old girl inside me cart-wheeled in excitement. Not only did The Spice Girls’ music define my childhood years, but the whole spirit of ‘girl power’ and the sheer success of the group made the chance to see this show impossible to turn down.
After reading reviews on the train on the way down, the premise of cheesy teenagers dancing around the stage in tribute to the world’s greatest girl band did lower my expectations quite considerably, and I certainly wasn’t without reservation on how ‘good’ the show would actually be. However, I was there to have fun and enjoy whatever lay ahead, and with the help of my complimentary glass of wine I sat down ready to go. In a fashion not dissimilar to Mamma Mia!, Viva Forever! has a story of its own which is complimented by the songs of The Spice Girls, rather than telling the story of the girls themselves… a much better idea in my opinion, as I had worried that three hours of waiting for ‘Posh’ to crack a smile would be rather monotonous.
The story follows four friends who are in the middle of achieving their childhood dreams of becoming world famous singers on the TV show, Star Maker. The usual stresses of performing on such a show sets off a domino effect of bad decisions and real life dramas, inevitably testing the strength of the girls’ friendship. Throw in the fact that the leading girl, Viva is adopted (a fact used against her by the powers-that-be of reality TV) and you’ve got a whole lot of turmoil for young girls to deal with.
As the show unfolded I found myself almost forgetting where I was, completely engrossed in the storyline and waiting to see what happened next. Would they make it? Would their friendship survive? I also found it hard to sit still as I’d forgotten just how much I loved The Spice Girls! The atmosphere was building towards a somewhat predictable ending, but nevertheless it was endearing and emotive all the same. As the cast bowed to the audience and disappeared behind the curtain, the unmistakable sound of ‘Spice up Your Life’ echoed around the theatre, dragging every single audience member to their feet for a salsa-esque sway to my favourite Spice Girls song. The cast reappeared for a fabulous encore and disappeared once again to rapturous applause.
The fact that I knew every word to every song definitely helped my enjoyment of the show, and in all honesty if I hadn’t had that amazing skill it may not have been so enthralling. But, I did…and I loved it! Hannah John-Kamen took the lead well, and the rest of the cast all played their part in making it a performance to remember. The actors didn’t take themselves too seriously, the cheese was there and they played on it making it a huge amount of fun and a real feel-good show. Definitely one for the girls, though…especially the delightful acoustic version of Viva Forever, performed by the even more delightful Ben Cura.
If you loved The Spice Girls or if cheesy pop is your guilty pleasure, Viva Forever! is a must see!