A new musical based on the hit film “Little Miss Sunshine” is currently on stage at La Jolla Playhouse. It weaves the story of a dysfunctional New Mexico family that hits the road for a pageant in California, and many shenanigans follow. Its celebrated creators, James Lapine and William Finn, hope to take the play to Broadway. (That’s been the destination for 18 productions the Playhouse has created.)

Whenever I go to a play or a performance, I love to lean to the person next to me and ask what they’re thinking, or chat about what we saw on the way to the car. I try to eavesdrop on the whispered conversations happening in the row behind me, or listen as my fellow patrons talk over their favorite moments in the parking lot.

This is our attempt to catch some of those conversations.

We went to the Playhouse Wednesday night to hear from audience members. We caught up with several of them at intermission, and asked them to stay for a few minutes after the play was out to tell us what they thought.

Listen in to their reviews:

 

Betty Williams, 62, Rancho Santa Fe

Strengths:

“I just thought that little girl (Georgi James as Olive) was so charming. I thought the storyline had a lot of dysfunction and a happy ending.”

Weaknesses:

“No. Well, I thought it was a slow beginning.”

Whom would you tell to come see this?

“That’s a difficult question. I was thinking of our daughters who are about your age … 20-somethings.”

Sylvia Jeung, 44, Pacific Beach

Strengths:

“The singing was great. The set design was wonderful, as always. The second half was a lot stronger than the first.”

Weaknesses:

“I thought it was a bit long. And they sing a lot of the dialogue, so there’s a lot of warbling going on. I think I would like to see more just acting.”

Whom would you tell to come see this?

“I guess I can’t really answer that.”

Carmen Scull, La Jolla

Strengths:

“When you first asked me (at intermission), I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, because I felt like the first part was kind of depressing. The second act really redeemed it for me. I think they brought out almost every human condition, or family condition, that people can relate to. The strengths were in the individual people — being not only good singers but also playing the part really well of their characters.”

Weaknesses:

“We missed the very first part, so I didn’t understand the role of the group that came around. I thought they added to it, but I didn’t understand exactly who they were or what that was about.”

Whom would you tell to come see this?

“I think people that have little girls, children that are that age would enjoy seeing it. I think anyone that likes theater would like it.”

Jack Scull, La Jolla

Strengths:

“I enjoyed the pageant part, and I enjoyed the moderator. I’d seen the movie, so I knew what was coming, of course. But I enjoyed all the stage work with the car, and the little car, and all of that. The staging was incredible.”

Weaknesses:

“I think in the first part it was too many parts to too many stories. It fragmented it too much, I think.”

Grace Young, 15, Dallas, Texas

Strengths:

“I really liked the actors and the music. I liked Olive a lot. She was relatable, I guess.”

Weaknesses:

“I don’t know. I liked it a lot.”

Whom would you tell to come see this?

“I think kids my age and younger than me, too.” (“But not too young!” her mom interjects.)

Your voice: Have you seen “Little Miss Sunshine”? Did you agree with our audience reviewers? What strengths or weaknesses did you spot that they missed? Leave a comment and join in.

A note: I forgot to ask Williams, but both the Sculls and Jeung told me they are subscribers to the Playhouse rather than patrons who bought a single ticket just for this show.

I’m the arts editor for VOSD. Please contact me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531 and follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

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