Have you bought your tickets yet for Little Miss Sunshine at the La Jolla Playhouse? If not, this is your reminder.
The show is quite a trip.
"We wanted to write a show that was delicious and that people want to see," composer/lyricist William Finn told us. He added that he sees Sunshine as "joyful" and an equivalent to Broadway’s Billy Elliott. "I’m sick of being depressed in the theater!"
Finn and director/writer James Lapine have tinkered happily with the Oscar-winning movie. In their world-premiere stage production, they’ve expanded scenes and added some background. "A lot of the movie is there—and a lot of us," said Lapine.
Lapine and Finn have collaborated on a quirky, fun score, much like those of their previous shows. This is Lapine and Finn’s 30th year together, having first worked on Falsettos in 1981 and, most recently, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Costume designer Jennifer Caprio told us she’d had fun dressing the wacky family and the pageant girls. She described talking to the actors before going shopping for this modern dress show. She asked Georgi James, the 10-year-old who plays Olive Hoover, what her favorite color is. The answer? "Rainbow!" So Caprio incorporated a rainbow into both a swimsuit and a hoodie for Olive. "Her character is a rainbow of joy," said Caprio.
Scenic designer David Korins showed us a tiny model of one of the 20 sets he created. He explained the difficulty of theatricalizing a road trip, especially since he and Lapine didn’t want to rely on technology or projections, as so many mainstream Broadway shows do today. Going low-tech is such an indie move…perfect for Little Miss Sunshine. For one thing, they decided to use several buses of different scales to give perspective.
The cast includes pageant kids from the area. Lapine introduced us to some of the "local La Jolla-ish girls." At one point, he paused and asked a blonde girl, "Where [exactly] are you from?" She shrugged and said, "Here." (Errrr…she’ll have to work on those pageant answers.)
Anyway, expect more theatricality when you go see the show. Little Miss Sunshine runs February 15-March 27 at the Mandell Weiss Theatre. Tickets are $44-100.
To read our Q&A with James Lapine, click here.