October has only just begun and already the signs of Christmas are all around us. Yes, Christmas is a time for family and festivity, but it is also a time of stress, expense and oh – more stress. In the approach to this time of year however, there are a few things to look forward to and for many theatre fans, one of these is the forthcoming Spice Girls musical Viva Forever!
Viva Forever! features the hit songs of ‘90’s super-power girl band The Spice Girls in an original story. Produced by Judy Craymer – who already has one successful jukebox musical under her belt in Mamma Mia! – and with a book by comedienne/actress Jennifer Saunders, the show centres around mother and daughter duo ‘Lauren’ and ‘Viva’ as the bright lights of fame beckon ‘Viva’ and her three best friends in the form of a TV talent show. As ‘Viva’ in particular is thrust into the limelight, their lives are thrown into turmoil and the true cost of becoming ‘a star’ is soon apparent.
The names of West End actress Sally Ann Triplett and newcomer Hannah John-Kamen have already been announced in the roles of ‘Lauren’ and ‘Viva’ respectively, after both previously played the parts in the musical’s workshop process earlier this year. Now though, with less than two months until Viva Forever! previews begin. Playing the three best friends of ‘Viva’ are Siobhan Athwal as ‘Luce’, Lucy Phelps as ‘Diamond’ and Dominique Provost-Chalkley as ‘Holly’. Joining them as friends of ‘Lauren’ will be Lucy Montgomery (Suzi) and Simon Slater (Mitch). Montgomery is a comedy actress who has appeared in Torchwood, The IT Crowd and Absolutely Fabulous, among others, while Slater’s credits include both stage (Mamma Mia, Forbidden Broadway…) and screen (Doctor Who, Inspector Morse…). The judges of the X-Factor style talent show will be played by Bill Ward, Sally Dexter and Tamara Wall. Ward is best known for his role as ‘Charlie Stubbs’ in Coronation Street. Dexter is a renowned stage actress who has starred in Billy Elliot, Sister Act, Oliver! and, most recently, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the threesixty theatre in Kensington Gardens. Wall has appeared in West End musicals Legally Blonde, Never Forget and We Will Rock You and previously played ‘Martina’ in Eastenders. Simon Adkins (Jersey Boys, Wicked, The Producers) will play ‘Leon the Stylist’ and Anthony Topham (Mamma Mia, 20th Century Boy) will play ‘Lance the Presenter’.
There are also some new faces joining the cast of Viva Forever! Ben Curo plays ‘Angel’, the musical director of the TV talent show, while Hatty Preston plays production assistant ‘Minty’. The rest of the company includes: Curtis Angus, Myles Brown, Darren Carnall, Charlotte Gorton, Luke Jackson, Sophie Carmen-Jones, Tom Kanavan, Rebecca McKinnis, Carla Nella, Zak Nemorin, Roxanne Palmer, Oliver Roll, David Rudin, Kirstie Skivington, Helen Ternent, Lucy Thatcher and Charlotte Walcott.
Producer Craymer, in response to the casting announcement, had this to say: “We’re very excited to be working with such a fabulous group of actors – not only does the cast include some of the most accomplished performers in British musical theatre, but we’ve discovered some wonderful newcomers as well.”
Viva Forever! – directed by Paul Garrington – is due to open at the Piccadilly Theatre on 11th December (previews from 27th November). The cast is set and rehearsals have already begun. There are theatre/Spice Girl fans galore who are positively itching with anticipation for this musical, sitting home in barely concealed glee as the date draws near, just like excited children on Christmas Eve as they wait for Santa to pass their way. Christmas brings gifts for all, but it is coming early for those this year who, ‘all they want for Christmas is…’ Viva Forever!
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Updated 7th October 2014