Wednesday, December 26, 2012

REVIEW: Viva Forever! (London)

Piccadilly Theatre (London), Friday December 21

On to the 3rd show of my 14 shows in 13 days marathon. Viva Forever! was not really a show I thought that I would like, but then, it was the only musical available on a Friday late afternoon, so I thought why not? Viva Forever! is a new musical based on the songs of Spice Girls. The fact that the book is by the award-winning writer and comedienne Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous, French & Saunders) and produced Judy Craymer of the worldwide smash-hit musical MAMMA MIA!, I thought that it can't be too bad. In fact, I thought that it would be one of those unexpected pleasant surprise of live theatre! Well, poor optimistic me.

In its website, it advertised "wonderfully joyous contemporary musical about the value of friendship in the face of fame and fortune! As one girl (Viva) follows her dreams, VIVA FOREVER! charts her journey into the world of overnight celebrity and its impact on her mother, and the friends she thought she’d have forever. From London to Spain and back again, as the world judges you, it’s all about who you really are and who you want to be, whatever the cost." That sounded good, but unfortunately, the reality was no where near that description.

I am not exactly familiar with the songs of Spice Girls; and maybe because of that, a lot of the situations and transitions of scene to song sounded very forced and odd. To be fair, the songs were not too bad, they were very hummable. I think the problem was that they didn't exactly sound like the songs that the characters would sing; worse is that neither the arrangement nor the orchestration helped to marry the songs with the characters. Book-wise, I definitely expected better from Jennifer Saunders, it was totally predictable and ordinary. What it had was the sad "let-us-stay-safe" fragments of AbFab and Mama Mia.

In general, the performances were not bad. I particularly like Sally Ann Triplett and Lucy Montgomery's take on the AbFab mother (of Viva) and friend roles. Triplett's Lauren was believable and Montgomery's Suzi was outrageous but still earth bound. Sally Dexter as a TV talent show judge, Simone, packed tons of impressive singing.

When I posted on Facebook about the musical, a friend commented, "so tell me what you want, what you really really want?" Without hesitation, I responded, "I want the show to STOP!"
Viva Forever!
A Musical Based on the Songs of Spice Girls
Piccadilly Theatre
Preview from: 27 Nov 2012
Opened on 11 Dec 2012

Creative Team:
Judy Craymer - Creator/Producer
Jennifer Saunders - Writer
Paul Garrington - Director
Lynne Page - Choreographer
Martin Koch - Musical Supervisor
Peter McKintosh - Designer
Bobby Aitken - Sound Designer
Howard Harrison - Lighting Designer

Cast includes:
Simon Adkins - Leon
Curtis Angus - Ensemble
Siobhan Athwal - Luce
Myles Brown - Swing
Sophie Carmen-Jones - Ensemble
Darren Carnall - Swing / Dance Captain
Ben Cura- Angel
Sally Dexter - Simone
Lia Given - Swing
Charlotte Gorton - Consuela / Ensemble
Luke Jackson - Ensemble
Hannah John-Kamen - Viva
Tom Kanavan - Ensemble
Rebecca McKinnis - Ensemble
Lucy Montgomery - Suzi
Carla Nella - Ensemble
Zak Nemorin - Ensemble
Roxanne Palmer - Ensemble
Lucy Phelps - Diamond
Hatty Preston - Minty
Dominique Provost-Chalkley - Holly
Oliver Roll - Ensemble
David Rudin - Ensemble
Kirstie Skivington - Swing
Simon Slater - Mitch
Helen Ternent - Swing
Lucy Thatcher - Ensemble
Anthony Topham - Lance / Ensemble
Sally Ann Triplett - Lauren
Charlotte Walcott - Ensemble
Tamara Wall - Karen
Bill Ward - Johnny

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