It is hard to write a jukebox musical. The reasons are many and complicated, but chief amongst them is the writer’s knowledge that he/she is creating shit. This knowledge is hard to duck each morning on the way to the computer, and harder still that night, as your lover asks “How was your day?” and the siren song of forgetting is heard from the vodka bottle in the cupboard.
The British do the jukeboxers best, having always felt inferior about the stage musical, despite such lovely efforts as Oliver! Mamma Mia! was, so to speak, the mother lode, and it’s been easier every year to re-attempt its stunning achievement of making well-crafted pop songs mildly enjoyable.
So, with news that a Spice Girls musical is on its way, I feel more pity than anything else. I know the scenario is going to be the hardest part for some desperate playwright somewhere down the line, so I’m offering this one. We can hash out the royalty details later.
The girls bound on, full of life, to the sound of Wannabe. They are here to audition for Simon Fuller (played by Will Young). They grab bits of costume and props lying around the studio (leopard print bustiers etc.), to create their signature looks by song’s end. A girl group is born!
But trouble looms. Mel C can’t keep a boyfriend, and Posh is worried that she has no talent. The others buck her up with a stirring rendition of Say You’ll Be There, and this transforms into their legendary concert at Wembley Stadium, attended by Prince William, who flirts with Ginger. No such event occurred in real life, but that doesn’t matter. The actor playing HRH William will be found through a reality TV show.
In a comic subplot, Mel B watches Eddie Murphy movies. She experiments with cross-dressing. Posh still worries that she has no talent, but Baby reassures her that it’s all about positivity, and the two “sing” Spice Up Your Life.
William and Ginger’s relationship grows serious, and they serenade one another to the tune of 2 Become 1. Posh, hanging around football change rooms, joins in and, in a stunning coup de theatre, Mel C is introduced to the joys of Sapphic love by Mel B and Baby Spice. “Erm, lahk I’ve never needed love before!” she cries.
Robbie Williams (playing himself!) disses the girls at one of his concerts. Stop right now, thank you very much, they tell him, as they storm his stage, and he is converted to the cause of Girl Power. He flirts with Ginger. HRH William sees this, and the two stage a dance-off for Ginger’s love. Simon Fuller joins in.
Ginger tells the boys she can never choose. Her 40th birthday is approaching, she explains, and she’s thinking of leaving the group. Everyone is sad, and sings Viva Forever, with a beautiful basso profundo solo from Posh.
It’s a low-point for the girls, and it tests their bond. While the others farewell Ginger (Goodbye), Baby wonders aloud if the whole girl power thing isn’t a bit of a crock, given that all the real money is being made by men. Simon quells her concerns with a stirring speech. They are, and always will be Spice Girls, he explains. Friendship Never Ends, he explains. They can always do reunion tours, he explains.
The girls hug, and are about to part when, in the distance, a crowd can be heard, very quietly singing “Wannabe”. From the wings, dozens of girls enter, empowered by the Spice Girls’ message of positivity. Then Prince Charles enters! Nelson Mandela enters! It is a Spice World of grateful fans, confident and joyful, forever spicing up their lives.