Theatre review - Little Miss Sunshine, The Lowry
PUBLISHED: 14:07 29 May 2019
Little Miss Sunshine, A Road Musical is pure feel-good fun that won’t let you down
If you love the film, the stage version of Little Miss Sunshine won't disappoint. It doesn't have the depth of the movie, the 'moral of the story' is a little laboured, and it can feel a little rushed at time, but overall it doesn't suffer for this and there's definite fun to be had with every scene.
It's a complex tale, let's be clear. We have a dysfunctional family that is all pulling if different directions, yet also in the same direction - for Olive, the youngest and happiest and the innocent in the tale.
Olive's mum, Sheryl Hoover, is holding it all together by her fingertips, coping with a son who doesn't speak (he types messages on his mobile phone) a husband who has lost his job and rather than find another, is determined to publish a self-help book (which really isn't going well) and a father-in-law who is living the wild life. Add in the arrival of her brother, sent for supervision while he recovers from a suicide attempt, and you can imagine that the last thing they need is a two day road-trip, all crammed in an ancient VW campervan, across the USA to get little Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Nevertheless, off they trot - and much hilarity ensues.
This is really the crux of the story: despite the fact that every character is deeply embedded, selfishly occupied, in their own miseries, dreams and obsessions, they all come together for a common cause - Olive. It's sweet and it's strong, though there are moments that could perhaps be given more pathos and less slapstick, to just give us a chance to engage with each character at a little greater depth and build some empathy with their situation. Left too shallow, it's too easy to judge negatively.
There are some superbly memorable scenes from a very strong cast - not least the ensemble players, who have a marvellous time camping their roles to the max. Imelda Warren-Green makes a fabulous bored, yet officious, hospital clerk and then morphs into a bonkers Miss California and gives it the full Mariah Carey - just brilliant! Another worthy of comment is Sophie Hartley Booth, who played Olive in last night's show. She was brilliant and her closing scene - well, if you've seen the movie, it's just what you hope for. If not, you will laugh, I promise.
If you're seeking a light night out, with laughter and storytelling and song, this ticks every box and you will leave smiling.
Until Saturday 1 June: thelowry.com/whats-on/little-miss-sunshine-a-road-musical