Long live the Spice Girls!By Peter Xandrix
Philippine Daily Inquirer
No, it’s not a new album (yes, please?) or another reunion tour (how I wish). But if you haven’t already heard, the Spice Girls are back together for another invasion. This time, the girls are taking over West End with “Viva Forever!”, a new musical based on their music.
Consider this a resurgence of girl power domination. The girls’ electric performance at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics certainly filled their fans’ longing for a spicy comeback. A heated homeland poll sets them ahead of One Direction for Celebrity of the Year—proving their staying power. They continue to charm, and their appeal is, arguably, timeless.
I flew to London for their reunion tour, thanks to my then roommates, Jimmy and CJ, who lovingly indulged me with a meet- and-greet. It was and still is the most enjoyable concert and production I’ve ever seen. So you can just imagine my delight when they announced the musical. I knew exactly where I had to be on Dec. 11th.
I’m not the only one who loves the girls. My sister Sharina and I have been following their antics ever since they zig-a-zig-ah’d back in 1996. So when “Viva Forever!” opened in London, it was a no-brainer that she’d be my perfect companion (she also happens to live in London).
Before coming to London, I exhausted my contacts to see the show on opening night, to no avail. Fortunately, my sister managed to snag the last two remaining tickets for the preview show the day before. We were all set.
Before the premiere, I ordered an afternoon tea (a must, if only for the novelty) and took a trip to the St. Pancras Hotel with my other girls, Nelly and Leah. St. Pancras Hotel was where the Spice Girls filmed the music video for their first single “Wannabe.” The girls came full circle when they announced “Viva Forever!” at the exact same venue. As we scoped the lobby, we tiptoed to the grand staircase for the obligatory pose. It was an evening of fun and frivolity.
“Viva Forever!” is produced by Judy Cramer, the woman behind “Mamma Mia!,” and written by Jennifer Saunders, from “Absolutely Fabulous” (fans of the TV show “Friends” will recognize her as Emily’s mother—yes, the British woman who hung up on Phoebe).
The story revolves around Viva, a girl thrown into instant fame, torn between family and friends. Her pitfalls and jubilations are told through the hit songs of the Spice Girls.
During both acts, the ballads were woven through the prose perfectly. The way the story meshed with the music was impressive. The punch lines and situations were expectedly British (ample tweaking will be required if they decide to cross the pond). The emotional “Goodbye/Mama/Headlines” mash-up and the rendition of “Viva Forever” in Spanish left me awestruck. But I just wished they were more zigs rather than sags.
The tone was serious but the message remained true: Girl empowerment. A true fan would devour this. My sister and I agreed that the show had a little too much heart, but the finale most certainly made up for the camp.
The adventure didn’t end there. The next day was opening night. I had my Spice on (my official tank and hat), I packed my photo book of the girls, my Greatest Hits CD and a Sharpie. I plotted my course and worked on my timing, but the problem was, I wasn’t the only who had the same idea. Fanatics were already outside the theater and it was only three o’clock. Despite the urge, I sadly decided against the wait. I did have evening plans, but I sneaked in a walk-thru (thrice), just to see if there would be an opening.
Well, third time’s indeed the charm: My third attempt yielded the Beckhams. Their limo just rolled in and I managed to snap some mediocre shots. Not exactly what I had planned, but a whiff of Posh was a lovely bonus. I was a happy camper!
The Spice Girls’ songs form a medley that I’ll always share with my sister/s. Their music will forever be part of my soundtrack. My unapologetic love for my girls will never falter and I’m damn proud of it. Thank you, Spice Girls. Viva Forever!