'Little Miss Sunshine' musical to premiere in February 2011

sunshineImage Credit: Eric LeeThis latest theater announcement made my heart do a little dance: Continuing the trend of adapting film for the stage (Legally Blonde, Shrek, Young Frankenstein, 9 to 5), Little Miss Sunshine the musical will premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse next February! The 2006 Sundance hit about a uniquely dysfunctional family — which was nominated for four Academy Awards — will be adapted by William Finn and James Lapine, who previously collaborated on 2005’s hilarious tale of awkward phonetic prodigies, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Lapine, a three-time Tony Award winner, has also frequently collaborated with legendary Stephen Sondheim (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Passion), and most recently conceived the Sondheim retrospective Sondheim on Sondheim, which is currently on Broadway.

On paper, this has the makings to be an unstoppable hit, but can this oddball dark comedy really make a successful transition to the stage? I vote yes. The film already provides a raunchy Rick James performance, which can easily be made even more outrageous in the context of a musical. But does the rest of the film warrant musical numbers? Sure! How about a solo from the heroin-using, foul-mouthed grandfather (portrayed on-screen by Alan Arkin) about all the worldly advice he gives his grandson? (“F— a lot of women kid.”) Or motivational speaker Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) going into a hilarious song and dance interpretation of his nine-step “Refuse to Lose” program? Given Finn and Lapine’s success with wordy misfits in Spelling Bee, they seem more than ready to handle turning Sunshine into a musical. While we’re brainstorming here, why doesn’t Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson (accomplished theater vet and Spelling Bee‘s original Leaf Coneybear) tackle the Steve Carell role of suicidal Proust scholar Frank Ginsberg?

Is anyone else excited? Do you think Little Miss Sunshine will make a good musical? Any other film you’d like to see on stage?

Comments (23 total) Add your comment
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  • Alex

    i feel like it’s cliche to be saying this, and that’s actually kind of depressing. but in my honest opinion, i’m sick of these amazing movies being made into mediocre musicals. ugh.

    • Jac

      I wholeheartedly agree, Alex.
      I adore Finn’s work (Especially “Elegies: A Song Cycle”) and Lapine has done some amazing things. But WHY?

    • Laura

      Totally agree, Alex. I am not excited about this at all.

  • Lindsay

    one of the best things about the movie was the soundtrack scored by Devotchka- any chance they can score the musical?

    • Alex

      thank you Lindsay. Devotchka’s beautiful score: yet another reason why this film doesn’t need to be made into a musical. it is already lovely as a great film with a complimenting score!

  • ken in STL

    This is VERY exciting news. Beyond “Spelling Bee,” it’s just as important to look at Finn and Lapine’s first Broadway collaboration, “Falsettos,” about a very dysfunctional yet ultimately loving family. Finn’s lyrics can be hysterically funny (“Four Jews in a Room Bitching”), intensely passionate (“This Had Better Come to a Stop”), and heartbreakingly sad (“What Would I Do?”) I can’t wait to see this!

  • KSH

    This is heavenly news!

  • joesmom

    I love this film and I’ll give it a chance as a musical. Most of the film was either in the dining room, the car, or the stage so it should be easy to convert. Will be interesting to see if they can find the right little girl for the main character.

  • hobokendave

    It all comes down to who is writing the music and lyrics. Legally Blond was funny as a show, but the music was totally forgettable.

  • Danny

    Lapine and Finn are probably the right team for this show. They are more likely to get the tone just right rather than be mediocre, so count me in as cautiously optimistic.

  • TacoTaco

    Hey, great! Another movie-turned-stage-musical. Good to see that Broadway is just as creatively bankrupt as Hollywood.

  • Sarah

    NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.

  • jo

    Sorry, Have NO interest in seeing this movie as a musical.

  • CaitiRose

    I agree that its not necessary to turn every hit movie into a musical, but this one has the credentials to actually work. I’m hoping this will be more along the lines of the Producers’ “why wasn’t this a musical before?” and less along the lines of Dirty Dancing’s “why was this ever made”. Movies to musicals have worked in the past, they just need legitimately work as a musical. Spamalot anyone?

  • rachel

    Finn can do no wrong! im totaly jazzed!

  • Leah

    Give it a chance! The La Jolla Playhouse puts on great theatre! I am positive they will do no wrong to Little Miss Sunshine! If, you haven’t been to the playhouse I suggest you check it out. I have never been disappointed!

  • Andy G.

    So excited for this, Finn is brilliant and perfect for this show. Wish Toni Collete would reprise her role, but Carolee Carmello would be great too. Also, Raul Esparza would be great either as the Dad or the Steve Carell role.

  • Dana

    I LOVE this movie and although I would rather see it as a “play” and less as a “musical” – I will take what I can get though and will remain excited until I se it…

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