MUSICALS: From Chart Toppers to Show Stoppers – Melanie C
When Pop Stars Go Musical
By Jordan Beck
Hello again! It’s just Jordan with the third instalment of When Pop Stars Go Musical.
Today, 2 become 1 as we spice up our life with not one, but two members of the world’s favourite girl group in a special two-part post.
The first of the double act featured in this post were part of the pop juggernaut who burst onto the music scene the meteoric Spice Girls. The loud and proud Brit lasses – Geri, Emma, Mel B, Mel C and Victoria became the five most famous planet in an amazingly short space of time. They told us what they really really wanted in 1996 (world domination, apparently) and by 1998 they had unleashed their colours upon the world. They sold 85 million records, about the same amount of dolls at Christmas, made the most kitsch movie the world has ever seen and had done way more sponsorship deals than music videos. But in the midst of their world tour, Ginger Spice did a bunk for the publicity, leaving the remaining girls to limp on, slow down and eventually Stop by 2000. Was it Goodbye from Spiceworld Forever though? Hardly. A brief world tour was thrown together in 2007, the jukebox musical Viva Forever! became the biggest flop in West End history and in 2018 reunion tour was announced, to which millions of Spice fans said they’ll be there. Too much?
But what have the girls been up to in their time away from the Spice rack? Well, Ginger had a moderately successful solo career but ultimately married yet more money, Baby had a less successful solo career and did something on the radio, Posh married a footballer and designed overpriced clothes for underweight women and both of the Mels swung it, shook it, moved it and made it in musical theatre. First up, we’ll have a look at everyone’s favourite Scouser – it’s…
Yes, that really is Sporty Spice in that picture above. You’d be forgiven for failing to recognise her in a million years, though.
That apron is a far cry from Sporty’s signature tracksuit. In 2010, Melanie C made her West End debut in the leading role in Blood Brothers. At that time, Willy Russell’s classic musical had been running for over 20 years and many famous actresses had taken on the role including Kiki Dee, Barbara Dickson and four of the Nolan sisters. As Mrs Johnstone, Melanie C played a struggling single mother who resorts to desperate measures when she finds herself pregnant with a set of twins she can’t afford to keep. Despite initial concerns from hardcore Blood Brothers fans that Melanie C was simply a celebrity who had been stunt cast into the role (which was blatantly true), it didn’t affect her success in the role. While we all know that Melanie would have no struggle with the accent of the Liverpudlian leading lady, it was a relief to see her acting chops had massively improved since the release of Spiceworld: The Movie in 1997. Hardened critics found themselves eating their words, as Melanie was nominated for the Best Actress award at the Laurence Olivier Awards in 2010.
Melanie C followed up this triumph by taking on the role of Mary Magdalene in a massive arena tour of Jesus Christ Susperstar, after helping Andrew Lloyd Webber to find Jesus on the ITV talent show, and although she has yet to appear in another musical, she did release a musical theatre covers album in 2012 called Stages.
On this album, she performed many musical classics, including a duet with Emma Bunton of ‘I Know Him So Well’ from Chess, originally made famous by Elaine Paige and fellow Mrs Johnstone – Barbara Dickson.
Stunt casting celebrities in musical theatre can often turn out to be a travesty, but in the case of little miss Melanie Chisholm, I think we can agree that she was anything but. Hopefully now that Spice World 2019 is done and dusted we’ll see Mel C on stage again. Which other classic musical theatre roles would you like to see Sporty tackle?
That’s it for this post. Next time, I’ll be taking a look at Mel B’s foray into the world of musical theatre which, not unsurprisingly, was not without a bit of shamelessly Scary controversy.
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