‘Wannabe: The Spice Girls Show’ was zig-a-zig-ah-mazing.
Hai, si, ja, hold tight! Or at least hold onto your knickers, the ultimate Spice Girls tribute show has just pulled up in Brisbane – flag covered double-decker bus and all.
Girl Power was front and center at ‘Wannabe: The Spice Girls Show’, with a stellar cast of UK’s finest in the opening night performance of their Australian tour. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the band’s hit album Spice World.
There is nothing more quintessentially 90s than the Spice Girls – Ginger, Scary, Sporty, Posh and Baby. Capturing a time when backwards caps, crop tops, Nokias, and girl/boy bands were all the rage, ‘Wannabe: The Spice Girls Show’ was nostalgic in all the right ways.
Presented in the style of a concert, in that it had limited dialogue, the theatrical experience used vocal gymnastics, choreography and costuming to tell the tale of five unique women who combined as a powerful force in the music industry of days gone by. Incorporation of news snippets on huge LEDs and a cheeky narration by Geoffrey – a possible reference to their agent Clifford from the Spice World movie – assisted with the storytelling.
Spice Girls music is unapologetically pop, but the producers took it up a notch by injecting an upbeat theatrical style to the classics (and some lesser known jazz numbers). The girl group’s journey to fame and beyond was captured with the inclusion of post-split solo hits, including the showstopper “It’s Raining Men” from Ginger.
With a lineup of outstanding British talent, the cast included creatives and musical theatre performers from West End to UK Tours, cruise lines to tribute bands, and every stage in between.
Shannan Cairns (Grease) as Ginger, did as Geri did, fitting best in the front and center. Her confidence and ownership of her bold feminine physique was strikingly on point and paired neatly with her killer vocals throughout.
Rhiannon Porter (Jesus Christ Superstar) as Sporty and Keri Rae (Aladdin) as Baby each had their own vocal moments that captured their range and ability perfectly; Porter in “STOP” and Rae in “2 Become 1” respectively.
Amelia Walker (Six The Musical) as Scary completely embodied Mel B, with her signature squats, tongue and hand signals. Walker’s rap solo in “Wannabe” was flawless and her stage presence infectious.
However, for this reviewer, Leanne Kyte (Carole – The Music Of Carole King) as Posh stole the show in that she took every mannerism of Victoria, added her own flare, and incorporated the perfect amount of audience interaction. Moreover, she took the vocals to a jazzy new level and killed every dance move in the world’s sharpest heels.
Unfortunately, Posh’s solos were replaced with a mimed number – reflecting her investment in the fashion industry – and while it was understandable for the story, it was such a shame to underutilise Kyte’s immense talent
Each audience member will have their favourite spice; the uniqueness and independent strengths of each character is what simultaneously compliments and contradicts the team, and is exactly what makes the Spice Girls timeless and relevant. They say there’s “no I in team” but the girls prove you can still be you.
Supporting the leads were the ‘Spice Boys’, who also have lengthy and impressive performance credits to their names, Robert Emile, Ike Fallon, Jack Bromage, and Liam Raven. Masc-attracted audience members were living their best lives in several numbers in which the shirtless and semi-shirtless gents body-rolled, popped-and-locked, and spun their way around the stage. The dynamic four added the exact amount of flare needed to balance the leading ladies and just enough sex appeal to keep the room hot.
The Spice Girls could be easily misunderstood when creating a tribute act – if creatives opted for simple vocalists and a band – but ‘Wannabe: The Spice Girls Show’ knew their subject and aced it. The performance standard of this production was beyond expectation and of an exceptionally high standard.
Combining upbeat remixes, high impact choreography and giving the characters life made for an exciting theatrical experience. This isn’t just a concert, it is a full-fledged show that perfectly captures and pays homage to a group of strong, clever and fierce women of the 90s who continue to crush it some 25 years later.
Spice Girls forever!
‘Wannabe: The Spice Girls Show’ will perform until August 13th at the Princess Theatre, Brisbane and continues its run across several Australian states. For more information visit the official Spice Girls Show website.
Photos sourced from the official website.