Theater: ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ could use some shade

The family sits down to a somewhat standard (for them) dinner, just before the tables are irrevocably turned. Credit: Joan Marcus
The family sits down to a standard (for them) dinner, just before the tables are irrevocably turned.
Credit: Joan Marcus

Why do producers keep making bad musicals out of good movies? They must think they have the next “Once,” when in fact their show is more likely to post a closing notice before you can say “Nine to Five.”

“Little Miss Sunshine,” at Second Stage, is not a bad musical — but it pales next to its source material, largely because its music is at odds with its book. It begins with a potent opening number bemoaning (or extolling) life’s disappointments, a recurring theme. But while the book more or less keeps to its hardboiled roots, the songs go soft.

“Sunshine” centers on Olive (Hannah Nordberg), a fourth-grader who wants to be the first Miss America from New Mexico. Olive placed second at the regional Little Miss Sunshine Pageant. She’s surrounded by a family of losers, including gay Uncle Frank (Rory O’Malley), who slit his wrists after his lover jilted him, Grandpa (David Rasche), who was booted out of a senior residence and perennially unemployed Dad (Will Swenson). Mom (Stephanie J. Block), the most normal but disappointed with life, and purposely mute brother Dwayne (Logan Rowland) complete the picture.

A call comes that the winner of the Little Miss Sunshine regionals has been disqualified, so Olive can compete in the pageant finals in California that weekend. The entire family goes with her. It’s a road trip from hell, with many obstacles, but they forge ahead.

Songs tend to be backstory or windows into the souls of the play’s characters. We get to know them better, but at a price. The music gets a little mushy — not entirely muting the play’s bark, but definitely diminishing its bite.

If you go

‘Little Miss Sunshine’
Through Dec. 15
Second Stage Theatre
305 W. 43rd St.
$62-$130
www.2st.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…