But this juke-box musical stuffed with the Spice Girls’ back catalogue proves a major disappointment on just about every front.
Such story as comedian Jennifer Saunders has cobbled together is derivative, littered with weak jokes (most of which fall flat) and, for the most part, shoehorns in songs willy-nilly – even the programme plays safe by listing them alphabetically without any indication as to who’s going to sing them or in what order. It rarely matters.
All that really happens is that TV talent show judge Simone pulls Viva out of a four-strong (but personality-free) wannabe girl band and decides to mentor her solo in a last-ditch attempt to salvage her own fading career.
Will Viva make it on her own? And will she get to meet the mother who gave her up for adoption?
Quite honestly, it’s hard to care – and Saunders doesn’t seem that interested either, letting the plot fizzle out like a soggy cigarette.
Sally Dexter tips over into the cartoonish as bitchy Simone, Sally Ann Triplett works hard as Viva’s adoptive mother who lives on a houseboat and (when the action relocates to Spain) has an amusingly touching, out of practice bedroom scene as “2 Become 1.”
There’s not much to recommend this show, though – snatches of energetic choreography and the occasional quietly convincing moment aren’t enough to sustain feeble swipes at X-Factor and its ilk and at the hollow quest for fame.
But with the equally lazily-constructed We Will Rock You still running a decade after a critical bashing, there’s the distinct possibility that, even if it’s not what the critics really, really want Viva Forever! might just live up to its name.
Piccadilly Theatre, Denman Street, W1D 7DY
Tube | Piccadilly
booking to 1st June 2013