Little Miss Sunshine Production Images – Original London Cast © Manuel Harlan
With lyrics and music by William Finn and a book by James Lapine, Little Miss Sunshine the musical has been adapted from the 2006 cult movie of the same name and opened off Broadway in 2013.
A new production of Little Miss Sunshine opened at the Arcola Theatre off West End in 2019 and is currently touring the UK and Ireland.
The story tells of the dysfunctional Hoover family consisting of unhappy mum and dad, a suicidal uncle, a brother who has taken a vow of silence, a Class A drug user Grandfather and bright bubbly young Olive. Olive has her heart set on winning the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant, so the Hoovers take to their battered yellow camper van to take the 800-mile trip from New Mexico to California.
Designer David Woodhead’s set is bright and simple consisting of neon lights and a road map backdrop. The yellow camper van consists of 6 yellow chairs raised on different sized blocks. Director Mehmet Ergen uses a revolving stage which effectively transports the viewer and makes them a passenger on this journey.
Little Miss Sunshine the musical is a quirky story about real family life that stays true to the plot of the movie and is a funny and entertaining piece of theatre. Though we enjoyed the musical score, not all of the show’s songs are memorable and in our opinion the show would be better suited as a play with songs rather than a musical, however, this does not take away from the strong performances of this talented cast.
Lucy O’Byrne’s performance as mum Sheryl is full of vulnerability, whilst Gabriel Vick gives a strong vocal performance as dad Richard. Paul Keating’s performance as Uncle Frank was honest, heartfelt and funny, with Sev Keoshgerian giving a moody, sensitive, comedic performance as teenage brother Dwayne. Lily-Mae Denman is completely engaging as Olive and had the Birmingham audience in the palm of her hand. Her chemistry with her outrageous Grandpa, played perfectly by Mark Moraghan, was wonderful to watch. It was refreshing to see casting as good as this in a regional theatre.
This likeable production is a parody of children’s beauty pageants that are still extremely popular in the United States. The highlight of this production for us was the pageant itself, with it’s hilarious outlandish characters and Olive’s unorthodox pageant routine choreographed by her Grandpa.
Little Miss Sunshine the musical is a heartwarming wonderful evening at the theatre and sent us home smiling.
Little Miss Sunshine at the Alex theatre Birmingham from the 16th – 20th July when it continues its national tour.
We say: “Little Miss Sunshine is full of outstanding performances, perfect family chemistry and a whole lot of heart!”