In the original film, some may find the repeated failings of the spectacularly flawed Hoovers painful to watch. But this musical incarnation (transferred from the States and touring across the UK this summer) emphasies an easier entertainment value. The Hoovers become into lovable, happy-go-lucky underdogs, with less imperfection.
In the hands of child actor Sophie Hartley Booth, Olive continues to be an adorable bundle of innocence, stealing hearts with her desire to make friends with one and all. Comedy gold is sprinkled by Imelda Warren-Green, making her bit parts of a bereavement counsellor (who has swallowed several lemons) and plastic beauty queen go a remarkably long way.
Although Little Miss Sunshine works better than expected as a musical, it’s far from a perfect one. The songs are plodding and unmemorable, and scenes in the mini-van lack momentum. No imaginative effort goes into suspending disbelief the actors are not sitting stock-still on a platform, but travelling in a moving vehicle. Richard Hoover (the father, played by Gabriel Vick of Sunny Afternoon) manages to drive them all the way to California with his hands on his knees.
If you like your cult classics unadulterated, Little Miss Sunshine will disappoint. It sugar-coats the more unseemly of the character’s imperfections in the name of family viewing, painting them in the same sunshine yellow that covers the stage. This is most obvious in grandpa Edwin Hoover, whose swearing and explicit sexual descriptions are given a PG muzzle.
Character imperfection and the embrace of hardship was what made Little Miss Sunshine unique as a film. The bigger the Hoover’s flaws, the more rewarding it was to see these overcome. Musicals demand perfection: characters accept their mediocrity, but do so in a flawless singing voice. Hardships are acceptable, but only if they can be turned into a running gag. Little Miss Sunshine has been coated in the very plastic the film condemned.
|What||Little Miss Sunshine musical, Arcola Theatre review|
|Where||Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street , London, E8 3DL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Dalston Junction (overground)|
21 Mar 19 – 11 May 19, 7:30 PM (run time approx 120 mins) | Saturday Matinees 3:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £30|
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|