British critics delivered scathing reviews of the Spice Girls musical “Viva Forever!” which opened Tuesday night in London in the presence of the girl band.
The show was overseen by Judy Craymer, the producer who masterminded the worldwide smash hit Abba jukebox show “Mamma Mia”, but one critic warned Spice Girls fans they would be better off simply listening to the group’s music.
“I’ll tell you what I wanted, what I really, really wanted — I wanted this terrible show to stop,” wrote The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer, apeing one of the girl band’s best-known songs.
Unimpressed with what he called an “insultingly banal” script that fails to comment on the themes of popular culture and obsession with fame, Spencer gave the show a meagre one star out of five.
He warned fans: “If you love the Spice Girls stay at home and listen to their greatest hits.”
The Times was little better, giving the West End musical a two-star rating under the headline, “I’m not sure we really, really wanted this”.
“It wouldn’t matter if the songs were good. But most of them aren’t,” wrote The Times’s Libby Purves.
“This ain?t Abba, and of the 22 only about four are memorable.”
The Sun was more favourable in its brief review, writing that the show “has thankfully lived up to all the hype”.
It said TV comedian and writer Jennifer Saunders “has done a great job with the script and the show flows really well”.
All five members of the band braved sub-zero conditions to greet fans on the red carpet on Tuesday.
Geri “Ginger” Halliwell, Emma “Baby” Bunton, Victoria “Posh” Beckham, Mel “Sporty” C and Mel “Scary” B were joined by Saunders to meet hoards of screaming fans before watching the show at the Piccadilly Theatre.
True to form, Beckham kept bandmates and fans waiting after getting stuck in traffic with her three sons and footballer husband David Beckham, but the remaining members kept busy by posing for pictures on their mobile phones.
The group’s biggest hits provide the backdrop to the show, which lampoons TV talent show “X Factor” and explores the themes of motherhood and friendship by following the fortunes of aspiring singer Viva.
Saunders said she was inspired by the five-piece’s “extraordinary energy”.
“When the Spice Girls were at their prime my three daughters were huge fans and in writing the musical I wanted to bring that all back,” she explained in the official programme.
“That sense of excitement and slight anarchy. The joy of being a girl and being able to be whatever kind of girl you choose to be,” she added.
Taking to the stage at the end of the show, the band paid tribute to the show’s creators and actors, with Halliwell praising Craymer for “making the Spice Girls’ dream come true” and calling her a “true woman of girl power”.