Seeing the Spice Girls reunited to promote the new musical based on their songs was like stepping back in time.
In the mid-1990s, when Posh, Scary, Sporty, Ginger and Baby were at the height of their fame, my daughter and her friends were captivated by them. No party was complete without Wannabe and Spice Up Your Life belting out of the CD player (I know, it was a long time ago) and the primary school playground was full of little girls discussing which Spice Girl was their favourite. Sadly, Melanie Chisholm (aka Sporty) never featured because she wore boring tracksuits whereas the others all got glitter, sparkles and Union Jack dresses.
But when the Spice Girls assembled yesterday I reckoned Melanie C and Emma Bunton looked the happiest by a long chalk. Melanie Brown and Geri Halliwell were still trying to be the stars of the show, while Victoria Beckham, now a hot-shot fashion designer who counts Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes among her best pals, looked like she didn’t want to be there at all. Once the launch was over she headed straight back to LA to tuck her baby daughter Harper in. “I’d love to stay and hang out with the girls but I’m desperate to see her before she goes to bed,” she said.
The Spice Girls are all in their late 30s now and won’t actually feature in Viva Forever!, the musical that’s been created by producer Judy Craymer and written by comedienne Jennifer Saunders. The show, which Saunders wanted to do because her three daughters loved the Spice Girls when they were growing up, weaves the band’s songs into a drama about a girl called Viva who is swept into the world of instant celebrity.
Actually, if I got my way I’d give Melanie C a part in it straight away. I saw her in Blood Brothers a few years ago and she was sensational. Aside from her sporty tracksuits, jaunty pony-tail and onstage back flips, Melanie C was best known for being the only Spice Girl who could actually sing. Well, she can act too. She grew up on Merseyside and was utterly compelling as Mrs Johnstone, the hard-pressed Liverpudlian mum who agrees to give one of her twin sons away.
I’ve seen Willy Russell’s wonderful play several times during its 29-year history but Melanie C knocked spots off the other actresses I’ve seen in the part. Her voice was stunning and she had exactly the right blend of toughness and vulnerability to make the character believable.
Viva Forever! opens in London in December and is set to be a smash hit. I’m definitely going to book tickets and take my daughter with me…