Touring – reviewed at New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Guest reviewer: Christine Jacobs
The Hoover family set out at the last minute to travel from Albuquerque New Mexico to California to get Olive brilliantly played by Lily Mae Denman, to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. The pageant she so desperately wants to enter, encouraged tremendously by Grandpa.
This flawed family consists of: downhearted mother Sheryl (Lucy O’Byrne), dad, upbeat Richard (Gabriel Vick); brother Dwayne (Sev Keoshgerian) who can’t wait to become a pilot to get away from the family; gay Uncle Frank (Paul Keating) and wonderfully irreverent Grandpa played outstandingly by Mark Monaghan, they all take the trip to California in a yellow VW camper van.
Determined to overcome all obstacles including:
1. No clutch on the van, meaning they all have to get out and push after each stoppage.
2. Frank meeting up with his former lover (over whom he tried to commit suicide), and his new partner played brilliantly camp by Ian Carlyle.
3. Maxing out their credit cards, causing strain on Sheryl and Richard’s relationship.
4. AND Shock, horror, despite Grandpa-dying they still continue to the beauty pageant to fulfil Olive’s dream which Grandpa so encouraged, NO MATTER WHAT.
The lighting is atmospheric, the lovely yellow hues make the VW van come to life and the wonderful addition of the Sat Nav route in the back of the stage and the Sat Nav directional voice giving directions are very realistic.
The hospital scene where Grandpa dies, one would assume to be tragically sad, but in this fantastically well-paced production it becomes humorous due to the determination of upbeat dad Richard. The ever present passion and desire to take Olive to her pageant is prevalent and a moving force for the characters and the show itself.
At the pageant, Buddy the host, yet again played magnificently by Carlyle, and Miss California (Imelda Warren-Green) both work wonderfully together and really turn the audience against their conniving personalities.
Tonight, the audience loved this show. Although (spoiler) Olive doesn’t win her contest, if it was up to the audience reaction, she would have come first every night. The ending of this musical is especially sweet, and I can’t help but wholly recommend this show to bring a smile to your face.
Little Miss Sunshine runs at the New Victoria Theatre until June 29th before continuing its tour.
Photo credit: Richard H Smith