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Renowned director Marianne Elliott jumps onboard the Viva Forever bandwagon.

Viva Forever, the upcoming musical based around the songs of Nineties global phenomenon The Spice Girls, is due to open in the West End towards the end of 2012.  Comedy legend and Absolutely Fabulous star Jennifer Saunders has resumed writing the book for the show after a battle with cancer last year.   Judy Craymer, responsible for helming the smash hit ABBA stage musical Mamma Mia, will produce the show and has proudly revealed Elliott as the production's director.  Craymer says "I am delighted that Marianne has agreed to direct Viva Forever.  With her theatrical aptitude for exploring strong women and their relationships and her meticulousness to detail, she is absolutely the right person to direct this new musical which is all about female friendship, celebrity and fame. I’m so happy to have her on board."

Elliott is best known for critically acclaimed National Theatre productions such as award-magnet War Horse, which is still selling well at the New London Theatre and has recently opened on Broadway to rave reviews.  Other strings to her National bow are Women Beware Women, Saint Joan, Harper Regan, Therese Raquin and Pillars of the Community.  She set up the fringe theatre company Small Talk with friends in her twenties before becoming associate director at the Royal Exchange and the Royal Court.  She has directed at the Donmar Warehouse and the Royal Shakespeare Company and joined the National in 2006.

Viva Forever will be similar in tone and concept to Craymer's Mamma Mia.  Rather than being a tribute to the high octane pop band, classic Spice songs will be interweaved into the stand alone narrative that will focus on celebrity, friendship and female empowerment whilst celebrating the unique energy and charm of the original quintet.  The Spice Girls dominated the charts between 1994 and 2001 after exploding onto the music scene with their infectious worldwide global chart topper Wannabe.  The song even broke the US Billboard top ten which was a rare feat for a UK act at that time and the band went on to sell 75 million records worldwide.  Subsequent hits Say You'll Be There, 2 Become 1, Who Do You Think You Are, Spice Up Your Life, Viva Forever and Holler will all feature in the musical.  The group reunited briefly in 2007 for a small world tour and Greatest Hits album and have been rumoured to be one of the opening acts for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Since disbanding the members have all forged successful careers on their own including eight solo UK number ones to add to their nine as a group.  Victoria Beckham is currently wowing the fashion world with her successful and critically acclaimed clothing line, Emma Bunton is a judge on Dancing On Ice and Melanie B has recently been announced as a new judge on the Australian X Factor.  Melanie C had a well received run as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre and, like fellow Spice and legendary Union Jack dress-wearing Geri Halliwell, is currently working on new solo material.

Watch out 2012 - Girl Power is back and it's comin' to getcha!

[posted by James, 28/04/2011]

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