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
International

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth pulls off epic photobomb

The selfie / photobomb has gone viral.

Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Television

Kacy Catanzaro credits mind over body in "American…

Kacy Catanzaro credits her victory to mental focus and upper body strength.

Movies

The 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer is…

Watch 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…