The long-awaited Spice Girls musical failed to go down well with the critics at its premiere.
After months of hype, Viva Forever! – penned by Jennifer Saunders – opened at the Piccadilly Theatre in London.
While Emma Bunton, Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm and Geri Halliwell were photographed together on the red carpet, Victoria Beckham turned up later and sat away from her former bandmates.
Produced by Mamma Mia’s Judy Craymer, Viva Forever! satirises X Factor and is the story of an aspiring singer who, with her best friends, gets swept up in a TV talent show.
The Daily Mirror called the plot “cliched” and the dialogue “leaden”, and said that “laughs are surprisingly few and far between”.
“You would think it would be easy to strap the songs of one of the biggest girl groups in recent history to an exuberant story. But you would be wrong,” Alun Palmer wrote.
The Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts called the jukebox musical “a prize Christmas turkey” with “the makings of a notable West End flop”.
While the Spice Girls were “full of beans, a greater force for feminism than Harriet Harman or even Nick Clegg,” the musical is “drudgy... sour and focused on failure,” he wrote.
The Independent’s Paul Taylor said the show was “lacking in any true original or challenging spark of its own”. “Viva Forever! forever? I rather think not,” he added.
He said that there were “marked deficiencies in Jennifer Saunders’ charmless, messy, lacklustre” writing, and that the musical was “embarrassingly derivative of Mamma Mia! and looks way past its sell-by date in its utterly surprise-free swipe at X Factor”.
The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis wrote that “there’s nothing really wrong with Jennifer Saunders’ script” but added: “The real problem is the songs. There aren’t enough memorable hits in a career that lasted for three albums to support two hours of theatre.”
At the end of the show, the Spice Girls led the audience in a standing ovation before joining the cast on stage for the curtain call where the band shared a group hug.