Image 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?