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Spice Girls to get the Mamma Mia! treatment

The creator of global hit Mamma Mia! is teaming up with media tycoon Simon Fuller to bring a Spice Girls musical to life, she announced today.

Judy Craymer, who is reckoned to be worth £75 million from her film and stage hit based on Abba songs, will bring her magic touch to the show, which is tentatively titled Viva Forever.

A Spice Girls musical has been rumoured for a number of months after the band met up to discuss the project, but has only now finally been confirmed.

There will be huge expectations from the show. Craymer's previous hit has taken more than £1 billion at theatres, and the movie version of Mamma Mia! is the highest-grossing film ever released in the UK.

It is one of the first projects from Fuller's new global entertainment firm XIX.

The Spice Girls became worldwide superstars in the late 1990s, guided by their manager Fuller, with a string of number one hits.

They sold more than 55 million records, packed huge venues and starred in their own movie.

When Geri Halliwell left the band she enjoyed a successful solo career, with Mel B, Mel C, Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham eventually following suit by releasing records in their own right.

The musical is being billed as a production which 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".

Producers stress it is "not a tribute show".

It is expected to open in London within the next two to three years.

Fuller, who has been behind TV hits such as Pop Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, has become a major media player in the past few years and is worth around £300 million.

Last week he announced he was setting up his new firm XIX, although he will continue to oversee some projects for media rights company CKX, to whom he sold his company 19 in 2005.

The company has teamed up with Judy Craymer Productions, the girls in the group and music giant Universal to develop the musical.

Craymer said: "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."

Fuller said: "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."

Mamma Mia! has played to an audience of more than 42 million on stage and there are eight productions around the world - more than any other musical. It first opened in London in 1999.

The Spice Girls, whose hits included Wannabe and Spice Up Your Life, reformed for a tour which began in December 2007.

But after the 47-date run was over, they made clear that the group was over. In a message to fans they said: "Our time is up... we've come to the end of the road ... We hate goodbyes but sadly the time has come to take our final bow."