Theater review: ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ — 1.5 stars

Little Miss Sunshine

The 2006 film comedy “Little Miss Sunshine,” about a highly stressed family attempting a long road trip in a broken-down van in order to make it to a beauty pageant for little girls, no doubt had the potential to make a fine musical.

With songwriter William Finn and director-playwright James Lapine, who previously collaborated on “Falsettos” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” at the helm, this ought to have been a smash.

So it is disappointing to report just how bad and uninspired “Little Miss Sunshine” has turned out.

Except for one zestful solo for the grandfather in which he brags about his sex life, Finn’s songs are sappy and devoid of flavor. Although Lapine’s book sticks closely to the structure of the original screenplay, almost all of the humor has been lost in translation. He also disrupts the narrative flow with dream sequences and a flashback.

The production is visually underwhelming, with a few chairs on wheels representing the van and small screens for the canvas of open road.

As the parents, Will Swenson (“Hair”) and Stephanie J. Block (“The Mystery of Edwin Drood”) appear hamstrung, while newcomer Hannah Nordberg, as the enthusiastic pageant contestant Olive, is appropriately adorable.