The Spice Girls‘ stage musical Viva Forever! has flopped with theatre critics.
The musical, written by comedy actress Jennifer Saunders, debuted in the West End earlier this week and received its first batch of reviews, most of which have been overwhelmingly negative. Critics have focused on everything from the poor writing and songs to the dated feel of the production, which will be looking to follow in the footsteps of pop star musicals such as Mama Mia!, Thriller and We Will Rock You.
Here are a selection of the critics’ harshest putdowns of Viva Forever!:
The Guardian: “There aren’t enough memorable hits in a career that lasted for three albums to support two hours of theatre. In fairness, the Spice Girls had a handful of decent songs – ‘Stop’ and ‘Say You’ll Be There’ among them – but elsewhere they’re forced to rely on pretty vaporous album tracks such as ‘Right Back At Ya’ and, at one panic-inducing moment, delve into the solo oeuvre of Geri Halliwell.”
The Daily Telegraph: “This musical is tawdry, lazy and unedifying, and one could sense a miasma of disappointment emanating from an audience of up-for-it Spice Girls fans slowly realising that they had paid top whack to see a clunker.”
The Independent: “The Spice Girls’ songs, with their clever hooks and catchy rhythms, are better at projecting an attitude than fleshing out a dramatic situation and it also indicates marked deficiencies in Jennifer Saunders’ charmless, messy, lacklustre book. 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 The X Factor.”
Evening Standard: “One of the main reasons for the Spice Girls’ success was their big and contrasting personalities. Those are absent here. What remains is their music: a couple of brilliantly effervescent tunes, a few other catchy numbers, and a lot that even their fans might struggle to hum. When ‘Spice Up Your Life’ is performed, it’s a genuinely buzzy moment. But there aren’t enough really potent songs to make this a compelling jukebox musical. The first half is limp, the second better yet hardly electrifying.
The Mirror: “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… Viva Forever? More like clapped-out Vauxhall Viva, five careless owners with far too many miles on the clock.”
The Times: “It wouldn’t matter if the songs were good. But most of them aren’t.”
Viva Forever! is on at the Piccadilly Theatre and runs until further notice.