I’d like to start this post by pointing out that I have absolutely nothing against jukebox musicals. I’ve seen quite a lot – some of them more times than I should ever admit.
However, I do admit that my expectations of Viva Forever were quite low mainly because I had yet to hear from someone I know who really enjoyed the show. Beside that I had watched the so called highlights clip and was still trying to figure out what exactly deserved the title “highlight” in those 5 minutes.
However, I tried to go with an open mind and give the show a fair chance. And the first 5 minutes into the show I actually thought that this might turn out to be quite a fun evening after all.
But how wrong was I?! I really hate to slaugther new shows but there’s really nothing I can say about Viva Forever beside: What a mess!
On the show’s website it says: “Viva Forever!” has exploded on to the stage at London’s Piccadilly Theatre and is wowing audiences with its clever mix of classic Spice Girls hits combined with Jennifer Saunders’ irresistibly funny story. Bringing some much needed spice to the West End, the show charts the journey of a girl and the people around her she loves, as she’s propelled into the superficial world of ‘Starmaker’, a TV talent show that offers the fame and fortune she thinks she craves. But life in the spotlight isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, for the contestants, their families or even those who have the deciding votes!”
What you really get is a completely bland story with some random Spice Girls songs thrown in (a lot of which are not even played out in full). The characters are either underdeveloped or completely over the top and the jokes are simply not funny.
The cast itself isn’t bad at all. If you look at the ensemble you will find some of the best dancers in the West End. If only they would be used as more than walking props in this show! There are so few dance numbers and the little choreograhy you get is rather boring. Where are the big group numbers?
There’s one hint of what the show might have been like if it hadn’t been screwed up: In “2 become 1” Sally Ann Triplett (Lauren, Viva’s mum) and Simon Slater (Mitch) have the audience in stitches with their sweet but slightly awkward “get together” on a shared bed in a hotel room. But even though this scene does have potential the sing along attitude of the audience makes the whole thing rather cringeworthy.
Sadly that remains the only little “highlight” in this show. The rest is nothing but a bunch of random scenes, some of them so completely weird that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry (“Spice up your life” springs to mind).
Hannah John-Kamen plays Viva, the female lead in the show. She does a good job but personally I wasn’t overally impressed by her. For me Siobhan Athwal (Luce) really stands out. She’s obviously supposed to be something like a “Mel B” character and she really is like a breath of fresh air in this rather dull show.
Simon Adkins is wonderfully funny as Leon and makes the best of the material he has been given. Sally Dexter’s Simone (a former singer and one of the judges) is just plain ridiculous to watch, however, that is not Dexter’s fault but simply due to the way the part has been written. I totally dislike Tamara Wall’s Karen (the second judge) and don’t find her funny at all. Bill Ward’s Johnny (a Simon Cowell like character) gets almost overlooked in the middle of the two completely over the top female judges.
I could go on and on about the show’s faults but to be honest I really don’t care enough about the whole thing to actually spend any more time on writing about it. And that about sums up my opinion about Viva Forever – I can’t hate it because I don’t care enough.
However, as always I do suggest you make up your own mind. You can get day seats for 20 quid on most days so at least you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent seat. And if someone is reading this who really enjoyed the show please do let me know. I would love to hear what exactly you did find enjoyable – because who knows, I maybe I wasn’t as open minded as I wanted to be after all.
Viva Forever is playing at the Piccadilly Theatre. For more info an to book tickets go to http://www.vivaforeverthemusical.com.