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Wannabe brings Spice Girls to Whistler

Toronto tribute group performs at The GLC on Friday, Nov. 8

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When Suzy Wilde and four of her friends in Toronto decided to perform a Spice Girls' tribute show, it was meant to be a one-time event.

But then, unexpectedly, the Toronto Star ran a story about it—on its front page.

"I was in the dressing room getting ready and someone was like, 'You're on the front page of the Toronto Star. Did you know that?'" recalls Wilde, who performs as Posh. "We did this show and it was intended to just be a simple performance for our family and friends."

They ended up drawing a line up around the block and the interest in Wannabe: A Spice Girls Tribute hasn't subsided in the seven years since.

"People were hungry for it," Wilde says. "They wanted that exact thing at that exact time and they still do. We keep waiting for this to slow down, but the shows keep selling out. [People] want to escape for that night to that amazing decade."

While the act is a bit of an escape for its performers too, they take it seriously, honing their costumes, accents, choreography and banter, Wilde adds.

"Wannabe is light and fun and songs we know ... but there is this universal message of girl power and it's important because we feel really passionately about it. That is what kind of drives us to go continue putting a lot of energy and passion into the show itself. What that means is every show is different. We reinvent the script, we rewrite the dialogue, change the order around, change the themes for different shows and have special guests," she says.

It helps that the five woman who make up the group—Jasmyn Fyffe as Scary, Anika Johnston as Sporty, Catharine Merriam as Baby, and Barbara Johnston as Ginger—are all professional performers.

Wilde, Anika, and Barbara, for example, all write musicals. "This has in fact allowed for us to continue all of our other artistic ventures," Wilde says. "It's kind of become what would've been our coffee shop job. This is funding our other projects."

The challenge of their side-hustle, though, is they're not only singing, but also striving to embody the people they're portraying.

While Wilde says she does have the benefit of playing the character who is most often in the spotlight, Posh (a.k.a. Victoria Beckham) is also the only one in the group who no longer performs.

"It's easier for me because she's still in the spotlight and the media," Wilde says. "I can still access her all the time. But she's the only Spice Girl who didn't do the reunion show last year. Our Baby Spice flew up [to London] to see it. She said it was incredible."

The group is making their Whistler debut at a sold-out show as part of Cornucopia on Nov. 8. Wilde says the crowd can expect full costumes, accents, and "some plot twists where we'll get into an argument onstage in our characters. You never know what's going to happen. We love the audience to dress up, sing along, and have an amazing time."

And if you're in the crowd and find yourself getting so swept up in the fun that you believe you're seeing the flesh-and-blood Spice Girls, don't worry—it happens all the time.

"People sometimes think we're actually them," Wilde says. "These women come to see our show then all of a sudden, they're transported back to their little girl selves. That experience is magical ... We'll have people yell, 'You were always my favourite!' 'You were my first CD!' People talk to us like we're actually them."

Catch Wannabe: A Spice Girl Tribute on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. It is sold out.

For more information visit wannabespicegirls.com/.

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