Hannah Rose Nordberg, Will Swenson and Stephanie J. Block Hit the Road in Little Miss Sunshine, Opening Off-Broadway Nov. 14

By Michael Gioia
14 Nov 2013

Hannah Rose Nordberg and Will Swenson
Hannah Rose Nordberg and Will Swenson
Photo by Joan Marcus

Second Stage Theatre's production of Little Miss Sunshine, the new musical comedy by Tony Award winners William Finn and James Lapine that is based on the 2006 road-trip comedy film of the same name, officially opens Off-Broadway Nov. 14, following previews that began Oct. 15.

The musical, which was recently extended one week through Dec. 15, has broken box-office records for Second Stage Theatre, earning the highest pre-opening advance in the company's 35-year history.

Little Miss Sunshine — which has undergone a major overhaul since its world premiere at California's La Jolla Playhouse in February 2011, retaining only three songs from the original version — 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.

"I am thrilled to kick off our 35th anniversary season with Little Miss Sunshine and to welcome back William Finn and James Lapine, two artists who have significant histories with Second Stage, most recently with our production of their musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," said Second Stage artistic director Carole Rothman in an earlier statement. "It seems appropriate to kick off this landmark season with a musical about optimism and resiliency, two qualities that are crucial for any not-for-profit theatre celebrating its past while also looking to its future. I can't wait to introduce this exuberant, funny, and sophisticated new musical to our audience."

Broadway producers Beth Williams and Barbara Whitman are providing some financial support for the production, but there are currently no plans for a Broadway transfer.

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.

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Stephanie J. Block, Rory O'Malley, Hannah Rose Nordberg, David Rasche and Will Swenson
Photo by Joan Marcus