Sometimes wanting is better than having... is just one of the themes in an upbeat musical currently parked at Liverpool's Playhouse.

This 2006 Oscar-winning road movie is now a road play packed with songs on its maiden European premiere tour.

It is suitably at home in the warm intimacy of the Playhouse.

Little Miss Sunshine features the dysfunctional Hoover family. All characters would be ideal contenders for The Simpsons with a bit of Avenue Q and Everybody Loves Raymond thrown into the mix.

It is like a potted history of sharply-written American sit-coms presented in under two hours including an interval.

A fine ensemble cast tell the sweet story of Olive - a bespectacled girl with big dreams who wants to be a pageant beauty queen.

Her supportive family agree to take on the the challenge and pack their yellow camper van for the 800 mile journey from New Mexico to California.

Along the way we get to know more about the likeable, loyal Hoovers:

There is author dad Richard (Gabriel Vick) with his work-in-progress - a self-help tome.

drug-taking, sex-obsessed Edwin a free-spirited grandad played by a wonderfully upbeat Mark Moraghan. The local star is making his successful Playhouse debut.

Enter silent Dwayne (Sev Keoshgerian) who only speaks via mobile text and there's gay Frank (Paul Keating) still hurting from a badly broken heart.

Mum Sheryl is the glue that keeps the clan together. Here Lucy O'Byrne shines amid the heart-felt emotional cloud-bursts.

The songs each relate the respective hopes and dreams and although the lyrics move the story along well enough the music sometimes stalls.

That said, it is the many morals of the tale that seep into your memory banks.

This is a hugely enjoyable trip with the Hoovers and the other members of

the cast who add much humour with some surreal cameos.

The very expressive Imelda Wareen-Green - a favourite at the Everyman pantos - plays oddball Linda and the diva- like Miss California. She provides some laugh-out-loud manic, moments.

Another highlight is the 'camper van' itself - a clever piece of design where imagination is in the driving set.

Director Mehmet Ergen gets the best out of his cast including Little Miss Sunshine herself on opening night played by Lily Mae Denman.

It is a fun show with lovely messages en route from scene-setting opening to a sparkling finale.

Little Miss Sunshine is ending its tour here in Liverpool - a celebration of glorious light and reflective shade.

Well worth a ticket to ride.

Full of surprises - 4 stars!

On at the Liverpool Playhouse until Saturday, September 28. Tickets are available by calling the box office on 0151 709 4776.