BWW Exclusive Interview: LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE's Rory O'Malley

Rory O'Malley is currently starring as 'Uncle Frank' in Second Stage's LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. The musical comedy, from the Tony Award-winning team of James Lapine and William Finn, takes audiences on an 800-mile trek with the highly dysfunctional yet somehow endearing Hoover family who are on a quest to reach a pre-teen beauty pageant in order to fulfill their daughter's far-fetched dream of winning the crown.

O'Malley, who recently appeared in Second Stage's musical Nobody Loves You, was nominated for both Tony and Drama Desk awards for urging his fellow Mormons to 'Turn It Off' in the hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon. His other theatre credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on Broadway, Happy Days The Musical for Goodspeed Opera/Paper Mill Playhouse and Off-Broadway's Newsical.

Today, Rory O'Malley speaks exclusively with BroadwayWorld about the pros of being a pessimist, James Lapine's 'No Hugging' rule and why Book of Mormon was the greatest time of his ife.

I believe the role of 'Uncle Frank' is the first time you've played a role based on a film character. Did you approach it any differently because of that?

It is. The only other time that was a little similar was when I played Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, so I had about ten years of television to take from Ron Howard to add to my character. But it's a little different with this guy, he's a little deeper, a little rougher around The Edges in some ways. But I did see the movie about six or seven years ago when it came out and thought it was brilliant, just like everyone else and thought that all the characters were so rich.

And Steve Carell's performance was wonderful. And though I chose not to watch the movie again, that performance was completely, fully in my mind and I definitely took a lot away from that. But what was important to me was to make sure that I was telling the story that James Lapine and William Finn were trying to tell, and not go back to the story of the movie. Even when small things are changed, it can feel monumental to a character or a choice that you're making in the moment. So I needed to stay focused on the script in front of me and the people and other actors that I was with.

As we all know, sometimes movies do not translate well into a stage production, particularly a musical. What is it about this particular story that enabled it to make the transfer so successfully?

Well, first of all it helps when you have James Lapine and William Finn. And I think also Michelle Lynch our choreographer, she really cracked a hard nut to crack by bringing the chairs into play and having the van come to life, rather than bringing in a large set piece, which I think would have taken away from the characters.

But beyond that, this story is so rich and the characters are so fantastic. As opposed to a lot of other movies that are turned into stage musicals, this one isn't just a hit movie, this is also a fantastically written story with wonderful characters and it's just fun to get to bring them back to life. I loved living with them when I was watching them in the movie theater and it has been a joy to get to spend a few months with them on a stage and breathe new life into them with these great actors I get to work with every night.

Let's go back to those chairs that you mentioned - that was such an ingenious way to present that iconic VW van from the movie on to the stage. How long did it take you to learn that choreography, because it looked quite involved and very complicated.

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