Bringing spicy back

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By Davida Ander

The room is dark and the stage is empty except for a glittering backdrop and some arranged instruments. The Backstreet Boys’ 90’s hit “Get Down” is blaring from two sets of speakers.

The crowd is impatient and some late arrivers are shoving to get to the front. A smog machine puffs and the room immediately quiets.

Five glamorous girls enter the stage and strike a pose. And then, they sing.

“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want!”

Last Saturday night, five Ryerson Theatre and Humber Music grads launched their Spice Girl tribute band “Wannabe” at El Mocambo.

The girls sang a variety of pop songs from the Spice Girls’ three studio albums and the Spice World movie.

Anika Johnson, who impersonates Sporty Spice, said the idea for the tribute band developed from a local band that Ginger impersonator Barb Johnston and Posh impersonator Suzy Wilde were part of.

During a previous gig, the members of their folk rock band dressed up as the Spice Girls, along with two of the male

PHOTOS: LINDSAY BOECKLmembers (who cross-dressed for the event) and a third posing as the real life Posh’s husband David Beckham. She said the concept just took off from there.

Later, Catharine Merriam and Janee Olivia joined the band as Baby and Scary Spice.

When it came to picking their personalities, Johnson said everything simply fell into place.

“It was kind of a natural fit; each of us suited a Spice Girl.”

The 24-year-old graduated from Ryerson’s Theatre School in 2009.

“Being a graduate of the theatre program, we were instilled with the idea that you have to create your own projects,” she said.

“It’s definitely a part of the attitude that we are given in school: making your own opportunities and creating something out of nothing.”

For Johnson, it is not the Spice Girls’ talent that stands out for her.

“The Spice Girls were special because they’re really just five normal girls. They’re not that good at singing or dancing. They’re pretty, but not knockouts,” said Johnson.

“They’re just five really sweet girls who have the right chemistry.”


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