Review: Little Miss Sunshine, A Road Musical, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at

LEGALLY Blonde, Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, Ghost, Shrek and more besides have taken on a new life as a musical after ubiquitous film success.

Now is the turn of Little Miss Sunshine, the 2006 directorial debut of the husband-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, scripted by Michael Arndt.

Presented in York on its European premiere tour, Little Miss Sunshine rides into town in the familiar bright yellow livery of a VW camper van.

At the wheel are James Lapine, book and lyrics, and William Finn, music and lyrics, steering the same story on its 800-mile journey from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Miss Sunshine pageant in California.

Making that journey are the dysfunctional Hoover family: financially troubled dad Richard (Gabriel Vick); harassed mum Sheryl (Lucy O'Byrne, 2015 runner-up on The Voice); suicidal Uncle Frank (Paul Keating); coke-snorting livewire Grandpa (Mark Moraghan) and two children.

Typical black-clad teen Dwayne (Sev Keoshgerian) is on his 85th day of silence, corresponding only by feverishly typed text and shrugged shoulders until he is accepted for the United States Air Force.

Then there is daughter Olive (a role shared on tour between Lily Mae Denman, Evie Gibson and Sophie Hartley Booth), and it is for Olive's benefit that they are piling into the rickety old van to support her as she competes in the Little Miss Sunshine contest.

The van is represented in David Woodhead's design by little more than a yellow frame, wheels and kitchen chairs. At times, the kitchen chairs suffice, the sense of movement created by the cast, but whereas Priscilla, the titular bus in Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, added hugely to the spectacle of that fabulous show, here the camper van has an underwhelming presence. It feels like a diminished character, by comparison with the film version, but is not alone in disappointing.

Lapine and Finn's often vexatious songs lack momentum and memorable hooks, slowing the drama instead of heightening it. They leave you numb rather than wanting to hum.

So, where does that leave Mehmet Ergen's production? Thankfully, the story still has humour, pathos and family tensions galore as their quirks spill out in the confinement of the van. Tempers fray, long-lingering problems come to the boil, as they travel the interstate route with the clock against them to make it to the competition.

Moraghan's hippie Grandpa, leg tattooed, language rich, is the stand-out; O'Byrne and Vick are the show's ballast in their straight parental roles; Keating's Uncle Frank and Keoshgerian's no less unhappy Dwayne find the darkness within, but still mine the comedy too.

Look out for two scene-stealing cameos from Imelda Warren-Green, first as an oddball, by-the-book hospital administrator, later as a riot in red as Miss California.

As for the press-night Olive, Lily-Mae Denman had bags of energy and self-belief, rather more in truth than this Little Miss Pale Sunshine, a show that falls short of the film, largely on account of its grey-skied music.

Charles Hutchinson