Ten year-old Olive Hoover has a dream. She desperately wants to be a beauty queen – and is willing to travel to achieve her ambition.

Her family are willing to go along for the ride – literally – and with Olive’s sight’s set on the ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ beauty pageant in California, they pile into their rickety, yellow VW camper van and embark on the 800-mile trip from their home in New Mexico.

Based on the Oscar-winning film, the stage play of Little Miss Sunshine, which comes to the Oxford Playhouse on Tuesday, is a new musical comedy from Tony Award-winners James Lapine and William Finn, which celebrates the quirks of family life and how even the most at-odds relatives can overcome their differences.

The show stars Irish actress and singer Lucy O’Byrne as Sheryl, the matriarch of the family.

Lucy shot to fame a a runner-up on BBC1’s The Voice in 2015.

“I have fallen in love with this quicker than I have with any other job; it just has so much heart,” she says.

“Olive is not what you’d expect from a child pageant wannabe; she’s her own person. The show is about how her very dysfunctional family manages to get themselves 800 miles across the US in their grandfather’s broken down old campervan – having to push it most of the way – in time for a pageant she really wants to compete in.

“It’s about how everybody’s love for Olive, and their desire to do anything and everything they can for her to get her to this pageant, brings them together as a family.”

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She adds: “The highs and lows they hit on this journey are so over the top it becomes crazy. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, something else comes along. But through it all they keep a humour among them. That is so true to real family life.

Lucy is joined by Mark Moraghan as Grandpa. A familiar face to soap fans, Mark has played Tim Richards in Emmerdale, Adrian Mortimer in Coronation Street, Owen Davis in Holby City, Ray Wyatt in Dream Team, Greg Shadwick in Brookside and Eddie Quinn in London’s Burning.

So what excites Lucy about playing Cheryl?

“She keeps everyone going, which is the beautiful thing about her,” she says.

“There’s never a moment when she’s going to give up and she doesn’t let anybody else either. She’s doing her best.”

What sets the production apart from the film are the songs.

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“The film is perfect. It’s beautiful. But the musical just grabs you straight away,” says Lucy.

“The music is gorgeous. The songs are hilarious and I think seeing it live lifts the story in a very special way because they’re there in front of you. They’re real people. You’re with them. You get sucked in and brought along on this journey.

But how do you stage a road movie in a theatre?

“This was one of the questions that I asked as well!” she laughs. “But the direction and choreography is amazing. The set is so cool; it’s really quirky. The way that it works and how the movement around the bus has been directed is, by itself, worth coming to see. It’s so clever.”

  • Little Miss Sunshine is at the Oxford Playhouse from Tuesday, August 20 to Saturday, August 24. Tickets starts at £10 from the Ticket Office on 01865 305305 or oxfordplayhouse.com