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Review: Little Miss Sunshine, at Arcola Theatre

04 April, 2019 — By Paul Cowling

Gary Wilmot, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Gabriel Vick and Paul Keating in Little Miss Sunshine. Photo: Manuel Harlan

I LOVED the 2006 movie version of Little Miss Sunshine starring Steve Carell and Toni Collette, but not James Lapine and William Finn’s musical adaptation.

Those familiar with the film know it’s about a dysfunctional family (the Hoovers) going on a road trip in a VW camper van so the youngest daughter, Olive (played confidently by Sophie Hartley-Booth), can take part in a California beauty pageant she has no chance of winning.

The Arcola is currently hosting this UK premiere before the clapped-out camper heads out across the UK. The vehicle here is a low-platform yellow trolley on castors with chairs for seats.

There may be working front and rear lights and VW decal, but to me it just doesn’t work well in Arcola’s intimacy, so how would it work on a bigger stage in front of a bigger audience?

Scene one is long and meandering, scene two – when the Hoovers descend on the pageant – is a lot better.

The impressive Gary Wilmot steals every scene he is in as porn (rather than heroin)-obsessed Grandpa, but by this time he is dead and rolled up in a carpet.

Imelda Warren-Green plays dippy Linda the nurse, and dippy Miss California. Her comical schtick for both parts will grab a lot of laughs, but for me was over-cooked.

Her singing, however, as the alto- warbling Miss California is very impressive. But it’s not enough.

Get the movie DVD.

Until May 11
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