Is there a way to conceive a Spice Girls musical that wouldn’t just be Spice World? Of course there’s a way; it’s called paychecks and quotas and the unstoppable clout of the phrase “sure, why not?” There’s also the unstoppable tidal movement of nostalgia from the ’80s (which has been flooded for years) to the early and now the mid-’90s and the accordion-like succession of comebacks and splinterings that the Spice Girls (all five! then all four! then all five again!) have eked out of the 2000s, not to mention the flood of jukebox musicals both OK (Mamma Mia!, among the originals and responsible for ABBA’s umpteenth career revival) and dismal (almost everything else.) We’d also be remiss not to mention Broadway’s revival thanks to Glee and precursors, with beached celebrity whales like “Spider-Man” washing up.
So many trends! This was practically inevitable! What precisely will the West End get with Viva Forever? The story is “top secret,” but you can pretty much extrapolate all its ingredients thanks to Mamma Mia! producer Judy Cramer.
[Director Marianne Elliott] is absolutely the right person to direct this new musical which is all about female friendship, celebrity and fame. I’m so happy to have her on board, together with Jennifer Saunders, who has written the musical.
So what’s that, five parts Mamma Mia! as filtered through movie executives who see it as the savior of movies not marketed toward teenage boys; two parts Spice World and one part The Fame? Probably a drizzle of Saunders’ Absolutely Fabulous to taste? Cramer also said the musical would “encompass the Spice Girls ethos of friendship, identity and being true to yourself,” so toss in a few parts “Wannabe” and a few parts Video with a Message. It’d be nice if “female friendship” in these movies/musicals didn’t involve just tacking together a bunch of character types–see also Bridesmaids, et al–but at least someone’s writing about it. Somewhere beneath the costumes and British Invasion press and bellyaching about pop music and riot grrrl precursors, the Spice Girls’ “girl power” was supposed to mean pretty much that.
Oh, but about the Spice Girls themselves. Cramer did say that they’ll be only tangentially involved, and all their involvement’s been limited from what we’ve seen to “we’re totally in touch! this sounds like a great idea! it’ll bring in the royalties!” So there’s that.