(C) Richard H Smith

Little Miss Sunshine: The Musical is a beautiful and heartwarming story for all generations.

When Olive Hoover unexpectedly receives an invitation to participate in the Little Miss Sunshine Competition, she and her family make the 800-mile round trip to California in their old Camper Van. But will they make it? And what will happen along the way?

Based on the Oscar winning film, this spectacular production visited Liverpool’s Playhouse Theatre for a road trip you’ll never forget.

The first aspect that dazzles you is the clever and inventive set design. A custom registration plate hangs above the stage as the audience take their seats, setting the scene for the story to come.

The use of chairs and interchangeable set pieces enables the story to move along seamlessly. With a simple turn of a star centrepiece, the audience are taken from the main stage to the backstage of the ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ competition. It is well crafted and effective set design.

William Finn’s music and lyrics are the perfect partner to this uplifting story of family, love and overcoming our worries, adapted for the stage by James Lapine.

Lucy O’Byrne and Gabriel Vick’s duet as Sheryl and Richard during Act One was uplifting, capturing the hope that the young couple had for their future together.

(C) Richard H Smith

Though some songs were more memorable than others, each worked well within the context of the story. Whether it was Mark Moraghan’s amusing musical number during act one, which left the audience with tears of laughter, or Gabriel Vick’s recollections of his relationship with his father, the songs were performed superbly by a cast who were a ray of sunshine in an already glorious production.

Of course there would be no story of Little Miss Sunshine without Olive. Lily Mae Denman is a star to watch out for the future. As Olive she shone brightly on the stage. Every facial expression, every step and every word was full of energy and emotion which captured your attention from start to finish.

Completing the family was Uncle Frank (Paul Keating) and Olive’s brother Dwayne (Sev Keoshgerian). Keating provided wonderful one-liners as Frank, while Keoshgerian’s physicality and facial expressions communicated lots about the character, even though he doesn’t speak much for the duration of the show.

Along the way, the family meet a whole cast of characters they both know and some they are meeting for the first time.

The onstage dynamics between Ian Carlyle, Imelda Warren-Green and Matthew McDonald in their various roles was sensational. As Buddy, Miss California and Kirby, the trio provided comedy gold as the hosts and team of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’.

If there were more than five stars I could give this show, then I would. It is a joyous production that you’ll want to watch again and again.

5 stars

By Sarah O’ Hara

Leave a comment