Little Miss Sunshine – Review – Sheffield Lyceum

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Little Miss Sunshine – Review

Sheffield Lyceum, July 2019

by Sarah Morgan

They say that football is a game of two halves, and the same could be said of Little Miss Sunshine, a touring stage musical based on the 2006 film of the same name.

The movie won two Oscars – for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin was the recipient) – and while this production probably won’t win many awards, watching it is still an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.

Taking Arkin’s role here is former Brookside and Holby City star Mark Moraghan, who clearly has a ball as the over-sexed, cocaine-snorting Grandpa Hoover. Now living with his son’s family, having been expelled from an old people’s home, his young granddaughter Olive is the apple of his eye.

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“Gusto”

When Olive wins a place in a California beauty pageant, the entire family – Grandpa, unemployed dreamer dad Richard, matriarch Cheryl, their electively mute teen son Dwayne, Cheryl’s suicidal brother Frank and, of course, Olive – embark on a cross-country trip from their home in New Mexico to get her there.

Along the way, they confront various issues and find the opportunity to cleanse their souls and look to the future. All except Grandpa Hoover – fate has something else in store for him, and if you haven’t seen the film, I won’t spoil it by letting on what that is.

Moraghan is joined by The Voice UK runner-up Lucy O’Byrne and experienced stage actors Gabriel Vick (Richard), Paul Keating (Frank) and Sev Keoshgerian (Dwayne), while special mention must go to Imelda Warren-Green, who tackles a couple of very different roles with much gusto, eking out as many laughs as possible from her all-too-brief appearances.

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“Joyous scenes”

But at the heart of it all is Olive, and getting her casting right is crucial. Three youngsters play her during the run; I was lucky enough to see Evie Gibson, who has a big future ahead of her if this outstanding performance is anything to go by.

The production itself is a little flat pre-interval, and yes, we expect songs in a musical, but there were a few too many crammed in for my liking to start with, and not all of them are particularly sparkling.

However, after the break, it really comes to life, culminating in joyous scenes at the pageant itself.

If you like the movie, chances are you’ll enjoy the play, and even those unfamiliar with the source material will find plenty to applaud at the final curtain – providing they stick around after that 15-minute break.

images: Richard H Smith

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