Blood Brothers (Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London)
Never thought I'd be writing in praise of a Spice Girl, but hey, life's a funny old thing. Sporty Spice (Mel C) is the best thing about Blood Brothers in its current West End incarnation. It's long been said that she's the only former Spice who can actually sing. Don't know if I'd go that far, always thought Mel B has a reasonable set of pipes, but Sporty sure can belt 'em out. Maybe I shouldn't have slept thru her set at the V festival back in '99, but I was V trashed at the time.
Mel C's voice is rich and strong, and she has a pretty good range. She's sometimes a little too
careful about individual words, rather than singing smooth phrases, but that's just me being picky. Beforehand, I did wonder whether she could act, well I doubt she'll ever join the Royal Shakespeare Company, but she did well enough in her role as the mother of twin boys, the Blood Brothers of the title.
I didn't join in with the standing ovation at the end, I'm mean with my standing ovations (last one was for Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot last summer, a theatrical experience that'll take some beating), mainly because for me, the musical is flawed. The same actors play the twins from boyhood to young men, and as usual when actors play children, they play it for laughs and go way over the top. So in the second act, when the boys' relationship goes downhill to the tragic denouement, it's pretty hard to take them seriously. Plus one of them is the spit of Prince William. There's also a really irritating devilish narrator, who wanders on at intervals to the sound of overloud soft rock guitars, to pronounce solemnly about Sporty and her family's future. But the music was so loud I could only make out the odd word, and it was just plain annoying. Weirdly, part of me was thinking throughout "This is so silly" but I still had a tiny tear in my eye at the end, when Sporty knelt at stage front, singing the final song.