Hannah Rose Nordberg Will Be Little Miss Sunshine at Off-Broadway's Second Stage

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01 Jul 2013

Hannah Rose Nordberg
Hannah Rose Nordberg

Nine-year-old actress Hanna Rose Nordberg will play Olive Hoover in Tony Award winners William Finn and James Lapine's new musical comedy Little Miss Sunshine, which will kick off Second Stage Theatre's 35th anniversary season Off-Broadway. 

Producers announced July 1 that Nordberg, who aspires to the coveted title of Little Miss Sunshine, will join previously announced cast members Tony nominees Will Chase ("Smash," High Fidelity, Rent, Aida, Miss Saigon) and Stephanie J. Block (Second Stage's By the Way, Meet Vera StarkWicked; 9 to 5; Anything Goes; The Pirate Queen; The Boy from Oz), who will play her respective parents Richard, an aspiring motivational speaker, and Sheryl, the multi-tasking backbone of the Hoover clan.

Nordberg, from Santa Monica, CA, has performed with Creative Kids Youth Theater Project in Los Angeles since the age of six. Her favorite roles include Glinda in Wicked, Miss Hannigan in Annie, Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast.

Additional casting and an official opening night will be announced at a later date.

The musical — 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 — will kick off 2ST's 35th season Oct. 15. It is based on the 2006 road-trip comedy film of the same name. 



"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."

Rothman told the New York Times that there are currently no plans for a Broadway transfer after the show's Off-Broadway run, although Broadway producers Beth Williams and Barbara Whitman are providing some financial support for the fall production.

The musical will feature scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Jennifer Caprio, lighting design by Ken Billington and sound design by Jon Weston. Choreography will be by Michele Lynch, and the music director will be Vadim Feichtner.

Here's how 2ST bills the musical, which will be 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."

La Jolla presented a private reading of the musical, featuring Raúl Esparza and Sherie Rene Scott under the direction of Lapine, in September 2011.

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.