Viva Forever is the new Spice Girls musical at the Piccadilly Theatre, written by Jennifer Saunders and produced by the team from Mamma Mia! so there is a certain pedigree there which has raised expectations for a new British musical hit in the West End.
Although Viva Forever has been created as a theatrical vehicle for about twenty of the Spice Girls vibrant and anthemic songs from the 90s, there is a real story weaving the whole thing together into a show in its own right, but how well have they managed to pull this off in comparison with the global success that is the Mamma Mia franchise?
Press night hasn’t quite happened yet so it is not normally done to publish reviews of the preview performances of the show, which are still something of a work in progress and may change significantly before the opening night. When the press reviews and others start to come in we will link to some of them from here, but in the meanwhile I thought it would be illuminating to flag up a rather eloquent blog post written by a young student who has never written a review before.
Fiona Grundy is a 20 years old Film and English student at the University of East Anglia and went to see Viva Forever earlier this week, this is her review:
The main points coming out of Fiona’s review of Viva Forever are probably about the comedy and the close comparison with both Ab-Fab and Mamma Mia but the question I’d like to bring to the front is the question of audience singing!
the musical should be treated as it is, a fun and cheesy romp (theatre attendants were trying to stop audience members from singing??!).
My only problem with the theatre in which we saw the musical was the theatre staff who discouraged people from singing along! I was so shocked, I was told by my friend that in Mama Mia singing along was encouraged (and musicals are, as I was led to believe, meant to be fun and laid-back events).
we were discouraged from singing
Remember again that this was only a preview performance, so the policy which the poor theatre staff had to try and implement may have been experimental. There may have been bad experiences with earlier previews1 which led to the attempt to stifle audience singing. I can imagine a scenario in which so many fans who know the songs word for word turn up and try to sing together that when the musical versions pauses or deviates from the old records, the audience just carry on with the version they know and a terrible clash of timing occurs, with some serious part of the drama or dialogue being drowoed out. This would spoil the show for the rest of the audience, a majority perhaps who have paid their money to hear the professionals on stage singing, not the amateurs in the stalls! It will be interesting to see whether they keep up the “No Singing” policy or relax it on the opening night and subsequent performances.
Thanks also to Fiona for digging out the Viva Forever! cast video below.
- actually, it looks like this may have been the first preview of all !! [↩]