Little Miss Sunshine at the Alexandra Theatre

The road to happiness is a bumpy ride…

Last night The Bloke and I were invited to watch Little Miss Sunshine at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham. I’d heard lots about the film, but almost nothing about the musical. I was intrigued by the plot:

The Hoover family has more than a few troubles, but young Olive has her heart set on winning the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest. When an invitation to compete comes out of the blue, the Hoovers must pile into their rickety, yellow VW camper van. Can it survive the 800-mile trip from New Mexico to California – and more importantly, can they? This inventive and uplifting musical celebrates the quirks of every family, the potholes in every road, and the power of overcoming our differences.

With Mark Moraghan as coke-sniffing Grandpa (and Olive’s biggest fan), Lucy O’Byrne as frustrated mother Sheryl, Paul Keating as suicidal Uncle Frank, Gabriel Vick as unemployed father Richard (who believes that his ‘10 Steps to Success’ book will make the family rich), Sev Keoshgerian as moody son Dwayne and Lily Mae Denman in the role of little Olive Hoover, the cast in itself are obviously incredibly talented. However, there was something missing in the first half and I found it difficult to become invested – the plot was a little slow and it felt like there was a lack of development, particularly in the characterisation and certainly in some of the songs, but this was not the fault of the cast nor the energy that they put into the performance.

The second half was much better than the first, with lots of laugh-out-loud moments particularly in the comedic talents of Ian Carlyle, Matthew McDonald and Imelda Warren-Green (who completely stole her scenes and is clearly a vocal powerhouse – it was a shame we didn’t get to see and hear more from her). The set was small and basic but cleverly used, particularly in the use of chairs and choreography to represent the VW Campervan that appeared in the film.

Based on the Academy Award-winning film by Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshineis the off-beat musical comedy created by the Tony Award-winning team of James Lapine (who collaborated with Stephen Sondheimon Into the Woodsand Sunday in the Parkwith George) and William Finn (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Falsettos). This new production is directed by Arcola’s Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen with design by David Woodhead, musical direction by Arlene McNaught, musical supervision by Mark Crossland, lighting design by Richard Williamson, sound design by Olly Steel, and choreography by Anthony Whiteman.

Little Miss Sunshine will be performing at The Alexandra, Birmingham from Tuesday 16th July – Saturday 20th July. To find out more and to purchase tickets, visit here:

Disclaimer: The Bloke and I were invited to see the show and given two complimentary tickets. However, we were under no obligation to provide a positive review.