Based on the Oscar winning film, Little Miss Sunshine opened in the West End in April 2019 followed by a nationwide UK tour.
This is a show of two halves. The first act is a beautifully staged, acted and crafted. It’s a tender story of a young girls dream amidst the reality of family secrets and life.
This musical is gritty and covers all of the buzz words in 2019 including fat shaming, trans, homosexuality, peer pressure, porn, unseen disability & naturally – passive aggression.
Act two is mostly camp old nonsense and loses it’s heart and class, despite a devastating opening few minutes. Overall it has quality tunes, a tight script and a superb cast. Act 1 is magnificently directed by Mehmet Ergen.
Little Miss Sunshine is definitely worth a visit at the Arcola, although I’m completely confused how this intimate and tiny show will go on tour and fill huge barns like the Bradford Alhambra.
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This is the story of family, hope, aspiration & love. A young girls dream meets the reality of life’s challenges. The show is small in scale but big in heart.
The entire show is driven by the hugely impressive Gabriel Vick who has a tremendous voice and energy. He’s perfectly cast and is utterly believable as is Laura-Pitt Pulford who plays his desperate wife. Gary Wilmot is a perfect naughty grandpa and fills the stage with his warmth.
Neither Laura or Gary will be on the UK tour. This doesn’t make sense at it is such a short West End run. One has to wonder if this is a cynical ploy to get excellent reviews in town and then tour with a different cast. Shameful, insulting and cynical if so. I’ve never heard of such a thing.
Evie Gibson is an adorable Olive and wows as the charismatic life and soul of the show. What remarkable talent and confidence at such a young age.
The Arcola Theatre is a pain in the ass to get to. It’s a good 30 minutes from the West End as it is not on the underground. Surely this has to be the shows biggest problem – is Off West End a new thing?
The room, an old factory, is peculiar as most watch the show from the side. Having said that, the intimacy of the room adds an Edinburgh-esk atmosphere to the show. We mustn’t forget it’s only here for a few weeks.
The six piece band were quite brilliant and the music is formulaic but nevertheless well written and beautifully performed. There isn’t a weak link in this cast. Vocally it’s superb.
The show itself is perfectly paced in Act 1 and literally drives at 100mph. Act 2 is somewhat of a mish-mash and for me, lost it’s heart and punch. I have to admit I found myself zoning out at some points wondering why I cared about the story towards the end.
It became more Hairspray and Priscilla, whereas Act 1 had the heart and pathos of Billy Elliot and Blood Brothers.
The show has many laughs and they’re delivered with punch. By the end, after the obligatory touring clap-a-long, the audience left satisfied.
A 5* cast with a 3.5* show and a set perfect for this tiny / intimate theatre.
Review by Alex Belfield for Celebrity Radio 27th March 2019.
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