Little Miss Sunshine – A Road Musical – Olympia Theatre – Review
Find out more about this production of Little Miss Sunshine – A Road Musical here.
Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th August 2019
This musical is based on the 2006 movie of the same name which starred Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Alan (Wolf) Arkin who won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as Grandpa. The film was converted into a musical in 2009 with music and lyrics by William Finn (Falsettos) and book by James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Falsettos).
It is the story of a young girl who is desperate to become a beauty queen. The first step along the way is the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. She has just got a spot in the final as another girl was disqualified. Her family is on the brink of financial ruin and each member of the clan is dysfunctional in their own way. They must travel across America so the young girl can follow her dream!
This is a touring production which has been running since March, with the Dublin dates the only ones in Ireland. Mark Moraghan has been playing Grandpa for most of the tour, but for the Dublin dates Bernard O’Shea has taken over the role in his theatrical acting debut! He does well with the relatively small part and has possibly the funniest song of the night with ‘The Happiest Guy in the Van’. Lucy O’Byrne is enjoyable in the role of Sheryl and she has a very impressive voice. She may be known to some readers from her time on The Voice Uk. The other main roles are taken by English musical regulars such as two-time Olivier-award nominee Paul Keating (Little Shop of Horrors, The Full Monty), Gabriel Vick (Avenue Q, Les Misérables, Eastenders), and Ian Carlyle (The Lion King, We Will Rock You).
It was always an interesting concept to convert a road movie into a musical as it is difficult to include a multitude of locations on stage. Some imagination is definitely required and a lot of the movement is achieved by montage scenes, with the actors dashing around the stage to convey their travels. While there is a yellow camper-van of sorts, all we get to see is the lower section of the vehicle and a revolving set is used to show its movement.
Those audience members expecting an exact recreation of the film will be disappointed. The musical has 17 songs throughout the performance, so there is as much singing as there is acting. The conversion to a musical has worked relatively well, but a few of the songs feel wedged in and the spoken text includes the majority of the funnier moments. The highlight of the night was definitely the performance of Lily Mae Denman as Olive (one of three actors playing the role). It is rare to get a child who can hold an audience’s attention but she was superb in the role, with all the required innocence and humour.