Little Miss Sunshine: A Road Musical at Grand Opera House York

Cast of Little Miss Sunshine on stage sitting in yellow seats representing campervan, laughing and cheering
Image Credits: Manuel Harlan-Min

Press tickets courtesy of Grand Opera House York* in exchange for this review. Links marked with * are affiliate links: I earn a small commission from any sales made through these links, at no extra cost to you!

Expectations: 3/5

Reality: 2/5

Chronic illness-friendly: 4/5

Having grown up with the film Little Miss Sunshine being one of my firm favourites, I was thrilled when the musical adaptation and tour was announced. I would’ve been willing to travel far and wide to see it, so it was a real case of good fortune that the iconic yellow camper van made a stop in York at my local regional theatre.

Although I was looking forward to the performance, right from the beginning I had my concerns about how such an emotionally-intricate film would translate onto the stage. See, what makes the film Little Miss Sunshine so impactful isn’t the plot or storyline: a family on the brink of collapse pegging it 800 miles across the country in a campervan to enter their young daughter into the beauty pageant of her dreams. Instead, it’s all in the complexities of the individual characters and the relationships between them, and the overriding themes of winning, losing and the ominous grey area in-between.

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Abigail’s Party, Grand Opera House York

abigail's party press image featuring cast awkwardly sat on sofa and two people stood behind looking at each other suspiciously

Expectations: 3.5/5

Reality: 3.5/5

Chronic Illness-Friendly: 4.5/5

Having never heard of Abigail’s Party* before and deciding to see it based on the synopsis alone, I went into this show with no idea what to expect. And having come out the other side as the small cast took their bows… I still wasn’t quite sure what on Earth I’d just witnessed, but knew it was unlike any theatre experience I’d had before.

See, here’s the thing. When I use words like ‘monotonous’, ‘slow-moving’ and ‘cringe-worthy’, you’d ordinarily expect these to be negative things reflecting a sub-par performance. However, Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party uses these things so painfully deliberately that it was actually quite brilliant. It took me a while to warm up to this alternative performance style, and a degree of patience was required at the beginning, but when things started to shift into place in the audience’s heads, you could almost sense the entire congregation getting on board and appreciating the show all the more for it.

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