Being a 90s kid and a huge Spice Girls fan, ‘Girl Power – The Spice Girls Experience’ at St Helen’s Theatre Royal sounded like the perfect treat to brighten up a dreary Thursday in January. With high expectations and fond memories of The Spice Girls throughout my childhood, this tribute show had a lot to prove with their live performance of some of the biggest and best songs in girl band history.
In reality, ‘Girl Power – The Spice Girls Experience’ transpired as five gifted singers who looked the part and showcased well-rehearsed vocals but unfortunately, this tribute show was a long way off credibly recreating the pop sensations that we know and love.
As the curtains open, the performers appeared quite nervous and rigid and I feel they needed to loosen up and show off some of that well known sass and character from the get-go. To recreate the magic of the spice girls is certainly a tall order and sadly, the first act in particular fell short in terms of energy, charisma and stage presence.
The five females could all sing effortlessly and when the harmonies came together, the songs sounded just like the original big numbers with my personal highlights being “Get Down With Me” and “Goodbye”. A much needed lively number in the first act came from Scary and Sporty Spice who performed an engaging rendition of ‘Sisters are doing it for themselves’. The performers were accompanied by their own three piece band which sounded fantastic. These three men appeared lively and passionate about the music and seeing them throughout the performance was a huge addition to the staging and the overall feel of the show. When the sound dynamics were correct, the vocals and instruments came together beautifully however there were major technically difficulties with the sound as the instruments sometimes overpowered the singers and microphones were switched on late on too many occasions. This meant the vocals were often not heard and some of the most famous lyrics of all time were sadly missed by the audience.
Scary, Sporty, Posh, Ginger and Baby Spice were all dressed fittingly and the costumes were unmistakable however I would have liked to have seen more coming from a pop group who were famed and glorified for their individual fashion and uniqueness. There was only one costume change in the first act but luckily the second act brought more diversity in terms of different costumes and overall production.
After the interval, the music moved away from true ‘Spice Girls’ with individual performances from all five stars including the fantastic crowd pleaser “It’s raining men” from Geri and my personal favourite of the evening “Baby when you’re gone” sang beautifully by Mel B and the male guitar player. However the show may have deviated too much from its roots as some songs choices did not make any sense and the show started to feel more like pub singers doing karaoke rather than a Spice Girls show. In saying that, perhaps there was a reason behind Scary Spice singing Lenny Kravitz, “Are you going to go my way” but from the audience’s perspective, it needed more narration.
Overall I feel the show lacked structure in terms of even a simple storyline and order. The second act surprised me and the ladies did ramp it up to finally give us more fun and feistiness. The audience clearly began to loosen up too and by the end, most were on their feet giving it everything with the classic moves to “Stop Right Now”. A fun evening for both young and old however with a hefty price tag of £24 per ticket, more is expected in terms of professionalism, diversity and energy. This show has great potential with five talented singers who can sing the songs as well as anyone but it needs more development in terms of style and production.
Reviewer: Blathine Maguire
Reviewed: 24th January 2019
North West End Rating: ★★