The musical — which officially opened Off-Broadway Nov. 14, following previews that began Oct. 15 — broke box-office records for Second Stage Theatre, earning the highest pre-opening advance in the company's 35-year history.
The musical underwent a major overhaul since its world premiere at California's La Jolla Playhouse in February 2011, retaining only three songs from the original version; the production kicked off 2ST's 35th season.
Hannah Rose Nordberg (Creative Kids Youth Theater Project in Los Angeles) stars as the show's title character, Olive Hoover, who aspires to the coveted title of Little Miss Sunshine. She is joined by Tony Award nominee Will Swenson (Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Murder Ballad, Hair) as Richard Hoover and Tony nominee Stephanie J. Block (Second Stage's By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Wicked; 9 to 5; Anything Goes; The Pirate Queen; The Boy from Oz) as Sheryl Hoover.
The production also features Rory O'Malley (The Book of Mormon) as Frank Hoover, the recently dumped, heartbroken Proust scholar and uncle to Olive Hoover; David Rasche (2ST's Warrior Class) as Grandpa Hoover, Olive's most fervent supporter and biggest fan; Logan Rowland (The Addams Family) as the teenage Dwayne Hoover, who has sworn off speaking for the foreseeable future; Josh Lamon (Hair, Elf) and Jennifer Sanchez (West Side Story) as Buddy and Miss California, respectively, the co-hosts of the Little Miss Sunshine pageant; and Wesley Taylor ("Smash," Rock of Ages) as Joshua Rose, the ex-lover of Frank Hoover, who unexpectedly crosses paths with the Hoover family as they journey to the pageant.
Read the recent Playbill feature with cast member Rasche, who plays Grandpa Hoover. The musical features scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Jennifer Caprio, lighting design by Ken Billington and sound design by Jon Weston. Choreography is by Michele Lynch, and the music director is Vadim Feichtner.
Here's how 2ST bills the musical, which is directed by Lapine: "On life's twisty road, sometimes you need to pull over and change direction. When the coveted title of 'Little Miss Sunshine' is unexpectedly within her reach, young Olive Hoover convinces her family to make the 800 mile trek to the pre-teen pageant of her dreams. Along the way, a series of mishaps threatens to derail the group's quest for the crown, until they realize a young girl’s far-fetched goal may actually hold the key to the family's happiness. From the Tony Award-winning team of James Lapine and William Finn comes Little Miss Sunshine, a new musical comedy about one modern family’s unexpected route to brighter days."
Finn penned music and lyrics, and Lapine wrote the libretto. Their previous collaborations include A New Brain, Falsettos and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
"Little Miss Sunshine," which was nominated for four Academy Awards, follows a dysfunctional family as they road-trip to California so their young daughter can compete in a beauty pageant.
Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theatre is located at 305 West 43rd Street (just west of Eighth Avenue). For more information and tickets, call (212) 246-4422 or visit 2ST.com.