The Final Nail In Jennifer Saunders' Career: Spice Girls' Musical, "Viva Forever"
Stick a fork in her. She is getting raked over the coals for the catastrophe that is the new Spice Girls musical that just opened, "Viva Forever." Saunders took two years creating and writing it. Her career throughout the 2000s was a bomb. She's continuing that trend into the 2010s. She can no longer live off her 90s "Ab Fab" success. Perhaps she should bow out gracefully. She managed to destroy the legacy of her biggest hit, "Absolutely Fabulous" with multiple revivals, each one worse than the last.
The Spice Girls new musical, Viva Forever!, written by comedy legend Jennifer Saunders opened in London - and the first reviews for the show are fairly harsh on the new show.
Accused of being boring and lifeless, it seems that producer Judy Craymer - who did so well with Mamma Mia! - just hasn't managed to find the spark to make Viva Forever! work. And some of that could be due to the fact that very few Spice Girls songs seem to be actually included, with those that are being almost unrecognisable.
Not to mention that the plot, which has according to Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is about "fame, adoption, growing up, growing older, fractured families and what's really important in life" (ambitious), is being labelled as dull with nothing happening - until the last half an hour, when too much happens. All at once.
The Daily Mail refer to Viva Forever! as "so drudgy, so sour and focused on failure," and it doesn't get any better, with the paper lambasting "the iffy performances, gloomy backdrops and a lamentably slow start" before finishing, "you have the makings of a notable West End flop. It’s almost as if the thing has a death wish."
The musical only gets a one star rating from the Telegraph, this time using the adjectives "tawdry, lazy and unedifying" to describe the musical and going so far as to mention a "miasma of disappointment emanating from an audience of up-for-it Spice Girls fans slowly realising that they had paid top whack to see a clunker."
Caroline Frost of the Huffington Post is slightly more optimistic, giving the production a generous two stars and saying that it "just" needs more plot and, well, more songs. She also notes that the first three songs which are performed in the first half are "barely recognisable as Spice Girls' numbers."
The Mirror agrees, stating, "Many of the band's biggest hits have been turned into such dirges they make laughing Leonard Cohen's work seem like the theme tune to the Teletubbies."
"If you love the Spice Girls stay at home and listen to their greatest hits," finishes the Telegraph.
"[It] makes you wonder why the producers didn't just hire a nightclub and make it a Viva Forever!-themed night," adds the Huffington Post.
And the Mirror ends their review with the sarcastic comment, "Viva Forever? More like clapped-out Vauxhall Viva, five careless owners with far too many miles on the clock."
Ouch. Say You'll Be There? It doesn't sound like many people will be...
I am curious about how much say Saunders had over what the plot and content of it would be. Craymer struck it lucky with Mamma Mia, hackneyed plot and everything. Given that this show also has a girl with questions surrounding who her parents are (abandoned and raised by a woman who lives in a houseboat) and has an 'exotic' setting when the action moves to Spain, I wonder if some of it is Craymer's doing.
I love Saunders but her comedy is very very niche, even compared to Dawn French, whose Vicar of Dibley was alot closer to the traditional sitcom than Ab Fab.
Oh, dear. It would appear that Broadwayworld had to delve deep into the internet to find a positive review to balance out the rest. The single positive one is from a University blog/newspaper.
Poor Alice Primmer. Her career as a critic is over.
[quote]I am curious about how much say Saunders had over what the plot and content of it would be.
All of it. The process of its creation was documented since 2010 when Saunders agreed to take the show on. She touts it as one of the greatest projects she's ever done. She's a Spice Girls nut. Whatever talent she had, she left it back in the 1990s. She was a different person back then. I can't believe she's now writing the Ab Fab movie, which will begin filming next year. She also wants to do an Ab Fab stage show, which she is now seriously considering.
Saunders' career height lasted just under a decade. After that, it was all downhill. It's like she forgot how to write comedy, Maybe she just wasn't interested in doing it any longer. She began taking herself way too seriously. She's falling into Ben Elton territory now.
She was a product of the Alternative Comic circuit of the 1980s in Britain. She hit 40, and she wanted to do material with deeper meaning. It's not shocking how the BBC pulled the plug on all her projects in the 00s. She could only rest on her laurels for so long before she needed to start producing something noteworthy for the network. It never happened. She did have breast cancer in 2010. She wasn't even out of commission a year when she started working again. She's in good health again, which is great, but that doesn't distract how horrible her work has been for over a decade now.
I thought that maybe Ruby Wax was actually behind "Ab Fab" in the 90s, but Wax was also part of the 2000s scripts. Whatever. Saunders hasn't proven to be able to do anything else but beat the dead horse that is "Absolutely Fabulous," an ironic name.
This musical should have been a make or break for the Spice Girls, but they're hardly even attached to it. They took the money and ran. It's amazing that they only had two albums with all five of them featured.
[quote]That show was terrible unfunny, darling.
The original three series were comic brilliance. I wonder if the scripts had a ghost writer.
Well no female could've possibly written those brilliant scripts by herself r6, as that liar claims. It's a scientific fact the female brain is the same size as a squirrel's.
[quote] I can't believe she's now writing the Ab Fab movie, which will begin filming next year. She also wants to do an Ab Fab stage show, which she is now seriously considering.
Ummm...the show's being reviewed and DISCUSSED IN THIS THREAD, so I'd say she's past the "seriously considering" point with it.
R8, this is a Spice Girls musical being reviews and discussed. Not an Ab Fab stage show.
They should have hired Victoria Wood
I never liked the Spice Girls, and of course they never deserved to be taken seriously, and don't think they were ever taken seriously. Still I remember they were appreciated by a lot of gays as a camp act. Is it possible that a comedic writer, writing a musical about them, intends it in that spirit, as camp? And that she's not expecting people to acclaim the group as great artists? Is that in the realm of possibility, or perhaps even the most reasonable assumption?
Not really, R11. Some of the reviews say that the numbers performed in the encore come closest to the campy fun that they show should have put across throughout. Another review even mentions Priscilla as an example of a jukebox musical getting the campy factor of it all. I doubt that the bad reviews are a case of something the gays will love going over the heads of stodgy critics.
It has a good advance though, and 8 out or 23 musicals in London now are jukebox shows, several of them long-running now. So God knows what will happen to it.
The Spice Girls sucked big time. I'm surprised the talented Saunders would have anything to do with them, but maybe she needed the cash, she just had breast cancer. I think she should write a play based on "Ab Fab" and bring it to Broadway.
From the AP:
"I'll tell you what I wanted, what I really, really wanted — I wanted this terrible show to stop," said Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph, riffing on the group's biggest hit, "Wannabe."
"This musical is tawdry, lazy and unedifying," he said, awarding the show one star.
The Independent newspaper's Paul Taylor gave the show two stars out of five, calling it "lacking in any truly original or challenging spark," while the Daily Mail's Quentin Letts dubbed it "a prize Christmas turkey."
[quote] but maybe she needed the cash, she just had breast cancer.
"Damn cancer, I know what I'll do, I'll write a musical!"
Socialised medicine in the UK. Now what's Kathie Lee's excuse?
[quote] I'm surprised the talented Saunders would have anything to do with them, but maybe she needed the cash, she just had breast cancer.
Nope. She follows them around like the Grateful Dead, and works with them constantly. She's insane when it comes to the Spice Girls. She even did parodies in French and Saunders, and charity music videos dressed as Geri Haliwell with the rest of the band.
Emma Bunton has been in "Ab Fab" for years, and she and Saunders attend events together regularly.
Saunders is labeled the sixth Spice Girl. That dubbing goes back years.
They weren't any worse than Bananarama, and there seems to be a lot of people here who like them. They were a much bigger phenomenon in the UK, it's a UK thing, she's a UK thing. I'm really surprised at the hostility this has generated, but whatever, rage on.
Saunders stopped being funny and original years ago. She's lazy, falling back on hackneyed plot devices, "wacky" costumes, and shameless mugging for the cameras, instead of trying to do anything remotely interesting. French is no better.
Emma Bunton's solo career has been pretty good. She doesn't have a great voice, but she has good taste. I remember a thread about one of her solo albums here years ago and tons of people were saying they loved the music, which was influenced by London's 60s mod sound.
The sad thing about Spice Girls was that they presented themselves as all "Girl Power", fierce, fun and independent, but then started to fight over a penis and that's what broke them up
[quote]They weren't any worse than Bananarama, and there seems to be a lot of people here who like them
Bananarama were much better than the smoke and mirrors Spice Girls. What the Nanas lacked in singing talent (they admitted this themselves) they made up with almost everything else, including writing their own songs. Original bandmate Siobhan Fahey left Bananarama and created Shakespeare's Sister, which showed that Fahey but also Keren and Sara knew how to write a good pop song. The Spice Girls were like a cartoon version of Bananarama who were not as plastic as that monstrosity from the 90s.
Banarama really sucked too - they always sound off key and flat, just really talentless musically. The only thing good about them was Stock Aitken Waterman.
God, Bananarama girls were homely!
[quote]The only thing good about them was Stock Aitken Waterman.
Far from it, their best music was pre-SAW.
With Bananarama being mentioned I am sure the French and Saunders spoof of Bananarama isn't far away of getting posted in this thread.
Jen has lost her touch, because nowdays 'oh, but when I do/wear/say it I do/wear/say it with irony' has lost its comedy touch and impact.
And I don't know anybody who wants to be reminded of the Spice Girls who represent the plastic pop formular that brought down the vibrancy of 90's Brit Pop and held popular music hostage for like four or five years.
Enough with the Spice Girls. We didn't care in 1997. We don't care now. We never will.
Rest of the World
The Spice Girls thing sounds dreadful but I disagree with anybody who thinks the AbFab Olympic Special wasn't funny.
Don't any of y'all get tired of threads like this one or the ever-popular "X's Collapse is Complete"? What's with feeling this glee at someone else's perceived failure? Is your own life so empty that the only joy you can feel is the misfortune of others? Does it make any difference in your life whether Jennifer Saunders is successful or not? Does it make your own life happier if someone else fails?
r30, I liked the guy who was ready to question whether Jennifer had a ghost writer, just because she (*gasp*) likes Spice Girls more than he does, and more than an equally talentless pop act, Bananarama, that's sanctioned by DL.
Could this just be a backlash? When someone becomes too beloved, too good, too successful, the media loves to join in the club to trash them. Maybe that is what is happening here.
Isn't she hated for being one of the entertainers who had exclusive contracts with the BBC for churning out shows while others were left out on purpose?
Glad it is a major flop....Judy Kramer is rich enough off of her other awful musical. What is her side kick, the untalented Phyllidia LLoyd doing these days? Boy, are those 2 lucky bitches.
[quote]Boy, are those 2 lucky bitches.
Did someone mention 'lucky bitches'?
'There is more female empowerment at a Taliban finishing school than in this show... It’s a shame a talented cast, especially Hannah John-Kamen’s Viva and the rest of Eternity, are let down by a cliched plot and leaden dialogue.' Daily Mirror
'This musical is tawdry, lazy and unedifying, and one could sense a miasma of disappointment emanating from an audience of up-for-it Spice Girls fans slowly realising that they had paid top whack to see a clunker.' Daily Telegraph
'(It) makes you wonder why the producers didn't just hire a nightclub and make it a Viva Forever!-themed night, instead of all this hand-wringing nonsense about friendship never ending, and being true to yourself. These are songs for dance floors, not the aircraft hanger space of what amounted to a big-budget school production, without a hairbrush to sing into in sight.' Huffington Post UK
'A rousing celebration of individuality and rebellion feels a tad unearned as the climax to a show that’s so so lacking in any truly original or challenging spark of its own. Viva Forever! forever? I rather think not.' The Independent
'There's nothing really wrong with Jennifer Saunders' script... But the real problem is the songs. For one thing, there aren't enough memorable hits in a career that lasted for three albums to support two hours of theatre.' The Guardian
'One of the biggest disappointments is Jennifer Saunders’ rather trite book which is symbolic of what is sadly a lazily put-together show. Occasionally, taking a whole different take on a familiar Spice Girls number to fulfil a dramatic purpose pays off... However, it soon becomes clear that the Spice Girls’ back catalogue is not generally of a high enough standard to be reinterpreted in this way.' The Stage