Grand Opera House York – until Saturday 8th June 2019
Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
Based on the quirky 2006 film, Little Miss Sunshine follows the Hoover family on their quest to reach California, from Albuquerque, in order for the young daughter Olive to participate in a beauty pageant of the same name. No mean feat, as this entails travelling across country in their dilapidated camper van.
The story is fundamentally a road trip with a dysfunctional family. We have dad Richard (Gabriel Vick), who after losing his job, is positive he has a book deal coming his way. Mother Sheryl (Lucy O’Byrne), trying to hold it all together. Uncle Frank (Paul Keating) is visiting his sister after slitting his wrists. Grandpa (Mark Moraghan), who can only be described as an aged teenager, coke-snorting, porn loving, cap on back to front and lewd comments aplenty. Son Dwayne (Sev Keoshgerian), stroppy to say the least, who is now in his 85th day of not speaking, using his mobile phone to frantically type out anything he wants to communicate. All of them end up accompanying Olive (Lily Mae Denman), this role is played by three different actresses on this tour, on her trip to California, as no one can be left behind because of various issues. What ensues are a variety of disasters, one after another, but somehow, through resilience, the family manage to push through.
The iconic yellow campervan is portrayed here using a revolving stage, kitchen chairs and a platform. At times it worked, but at the same time it was underwhelming. What worked for me was the physical scenes, the attempts at push starting the bus and when the family were running and weaving around in their mission to get back once this has been accomplished.
The stands out for me were, Grandpa’s sex song is hilarious and of course Olives pageant talent performance is worth a mention, though was missing the crawling on all fours from the film. Another standout was Imelda Warren-Green’s performance as Miss California, the parody of the beauty contestant was just fabulous. You couldn’t fault the cast at all.
There were a few parts of the show that I really enjoyed but ultimately the show lacked oomph. The songs were not memorable enough, didn’t pack a punch, which they should be doing, after all this is a musical. A shame really, as the promise of so much more was there to be had.