Prepare for a major dose of Girl Power! A new stage musical based on the songs of Nineties girl group phenomenon the Spice Girls is officially in the works (See The Goss, 20 Oct 2009) – and with the band’s full backing. Mamma Mia! creator Judy Craymer has today announced an agreement with XIX, the new company formed by the band’s original manager Simon Fuller, to conceive and produce the new musical, currently under the working title Viva Forever.

According to today’s press release, as with Mamma Mia!, in which the songs of Abba are fashioned around an original story by Catherine Johnson, Viva Forever “is not a tribute show, but it will harness the distinct personality of the Spice Girls to create a musical that celebrates the energy and excitement of the biggest girl-band of all time.”

From 1994 to 2001, the five-strong Spice Girls - Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown and Melanie Chisholm (currently in the West End in Blood Brothers, for which she's been Whatsonstage.com Award nominated), aka Posh, Baby, Ginger, Scary and Sporty Spice respectively - were one of the biggest bands in the world, selling 75 million records worldwide and regularly topping the charts with hit singles like "Wannabe", "Say You'll Be There", "2 Become 1", "Who Do You Think You Are", "Too Much", "Stop", "Spice Up Your Life" and "Viva Forever".

Culturally, the Spice Girls spearheaded the “Girl Power” culture of the Nineties and played a big part in the image of “Cool Britannia” internationally. They also starred, as themselves alongside myriad other celebrities, in the 1997 film Spice World. Their various awards as a group included four Brits, three American Music Awards, three MTV Europe Music Awards, three World Music Awards, and one MTV Video Music Award.

After disbanding, all five women went on to forge independent careers in music, television and other branches of entertainment with mixed success. They reformed briefly in 2007 for a reunion tour and album.

Speaking on their behalf about the new stage project, Simon Fuller said today: “The girls and I are very excited to be working with Judy Craymer. What Judy has achieved with her all conquering box office smash hit Mamma Mia! and what the Spice Girls created with their powerful record-breaking mix of ‘Girl Power!’ and hit songs, has influenced pop culture more than anyone can imagine. Now with this incredible new project Viva Forever, we all come together as partners with a combined focus to create something really special for this next decade.”

Judy Craymer added: “I’m delighted that Simon Fuller and the Spice Girls are so supportive of the idea of Viva Forever. I want to create a unique celebration of the band and its music, with its own flavour and joyful message. It is important to me that the excitement, style and humour of the Spice Girls is well represented on stage.”

No creatives, cast, dates or venue details have yet been announced for Viva Forever, but if it comes close to emulating the success of Mamma Mia!, it’s sure to make each of the original Spice Girls – as well as Craymer and Fuller – quite a lot richer. The Abba blockbuster, which celebrated its tenth birthday in the West End last April, has grossed more over $2 billion, been seen by more than 42 million people in eight current productions around the world and spawned the 2008 film version starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, which set records as the highest grossing musical film ever.