31.12.13

VIVA FOREVER


Those involved in the production of Viva Forever, the musical based on the songs of the Spice Girls, are blaming its imminent closure on bad reviews, but this sounds like the sourest of grapes to me. If that was the case then Mama Mia, the Abba musical, and We Will Rock You (Queen) would both have closed within weeks of opening for both attracted grim reviews when they opened, yet both have gone on to become long-lasting successes with Mama Mia especially amongst the most successful musicals of all time and not just in London, a massive cash cow which has also been made into a hugely successful film (which was also slated by critics).
     No, the reason why Viva Forever has flopped is because, unlike Abba and Queen, the Spice Girls do not have a solid, enduring catalogue of hits on which to base a stage musical. Abba and Queen grafted, worked hard at their craft and - whether you like them or not - produced substantial bodies of work that succeeding generations of pop fans recognise as having merit. The Spice Girls' catalogue in insubstantial in both quality and quantity. The Spice Girls phenomenon was a triumph of marketing and promotion, a modern day celebrity tale in which publicity and sloganeering triumphed over talent and integrity. In short, they got lucky. The Spice Girls were built of straw, Abba and Queen of stone.
     Many years ago I took my daughter Olivia, then aged eight, to see the Spice Girls at Earls Court and, some time later, Bjorn Again at the Shepherds Bush Empire. We lived off the Uxbridge Road in those days and as we walked home hand in hand from the Empire that night Olivia looked up at me and said: "Daddy, I preferred the fake Abba to the real Spice Girls."
 
     If an eight-year-old could recognise this, why could the producers of Viva Forever?

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