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A Pageant-Style Interview With Little Miss Sunshine's Five Precocious Princesses

The new Second Stage musical’s star Hannah Nordberg and her fellow pageant girls talk ice cream, college plans, and collections (of giraffes, duct tape, and more!) logo

The New York premiere of James Lapine and William Finn's new musical Little Miss Sunshine is currently playing Second Stage Theatre. The production, which stars Broadway favorites Stephanie J. Block and Will Swenson, is inspired by the Academy Award-winning 2006 film of the same name and follows a quirky little girl named Olive (Hannah Nordberg) as she pursues her dream of appearing in a child beauty pageant.

Nordberg and her fellow faux pageant girls (Leonay Shepherd, Miranda McKeon, Alivia Clark, and Victoria Dennis) sat down with TheaterMania for a slightly wacky and surprisingly wise Q&A, with actual pageant-inspired questions.

Little Miss Sunshine's Miranda McKeon, Alivia Clark, Hannah Nordberg, Victoria Dennis, and Leonay Shepherd.
(© Seth Walters)

1. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Leonay Shepherd: My favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla soft serve with sprinkles.

Miranda McKeon: Probably just classic chocolate.

Hannah Nordberg: Mint chip or peppermint.

Alivia Clark: Vanilla chocolate chip.

Victoria Dennis: My favorite is either soft-serve chocolate with chocolate sprinkles or just, like, scoop chocolate.

2. Do you collect anything?

Leonay Shepherd: I collect dolls. I collect stuff that I make for dolls. What else do I collect? I collect a lot of stuff. I collect Build-a-Bears. And I also collect American Girl dolls. And I also collect duct tape.

Miranda McKeon: I collect stuffed giraffes. My friend, she loved giraffes, she had like 64 giraffes or something in her room. And I looked around and I was like, Oh my god, I love this. So I started collecting giraffes too.

Hannah Nordberg: I love American Girl dolls because I'm in love with hair. I can do Dutch braids, cage braids, all these different braids and twists and French twists and all these different things. And I have is six American Girl dolls. One of them, her hair is totally disastered. I just am obsessed with hair.

Alivia Clark: I love collecting all sorts of shells and sea glass. And I have so many Beanie Babies.

Victoria Dennis: She brought them to tutoring one day. She had like five of them.

Alivia Clark: I have way more than five of them.

Victoria Dennis: I collect nail polishes because I am in love, and when I tell you in love, I mean in love with painting nails.

3. Would you change your name if you could?

Leonay Shepherd, Miranda McKeon, and Alivia Clark in Little Miss Sunshine.
(© Joan Marcus)

Leonay Shepherd: Yes. I would change it to Milan.

Miranda McKeon: That's pretty!

Leonay Shepherd: Yeah, I've always said if I ever changed my name that would be my name.

Miranda McKeon: This is such a hard question! Ok, well, ugh, my gosh, all right, no. I would keep it the same.

Hannah Nordberg: I wouldn't change my name, but if I did it would probably be Abigail or Charlotte.

Alivia Clark: You kind of look like a Charlotte.

Hannah Nordberg: I look like a Charlotte or an Abigail.

Alivia Clark: No, I would not change my name. I think my name is very unique, because usually Olivia start with O, but mine starts with A.

Victoria Dennis: I don't think I would change my name because half of my family is Italian and Greek, and Victoria means winner in Italian.

Miranda McKeon: Winner winner chicken dinner!

4. Do you know what you want to study in college one day?

Leonay Shepherd: I know where I'm gonna go to college! I'm going to college at Juilliard. And I am going to study dance.

Miranda McKeon: You're like a triple triple triple triple threat! I know I would like to study musical theater, but then, for a backup plan, I'm going to teach Pilates.

Hannah Nordberg: I don't really know which college, but one of my choices might be Barnard College. It's really nice. I want to study fashion, mixing up different stuff. I definitely want to learn how to sew. I want to make different design dresses.

Alivia Clark: I actually don't know what I want to study. I mean, maybe musical theater or dance or acting. All of them are so fun to do, and I just haven't really thought about it yet.

Victoria Dennis: I want to go to any college that has a musical-theater program/acting program. I'm not sure what my backup plan is yet, but I like painting nails so I might go to beauty school. So when I get older and let's just say my career goes far and I have my own little walk-in closet, I'll be like, OK, I went to beauty school and they said that red and purple go together with a black bow.

5. What was the happiest moment of your life so far?

Victoria Dennis: I think all of us will have the same answer.

Leonay Shepherd: The happiest day of my life was when I got this because it's my first professional show.

Miranda McKeon: Definitely getting this. I started hysterically crying. I got the call a couple hours after my final audition and I still had my fake eyelashes on, because we had to dress up like pageant girls. And they started coming off and it was so weird because it was like, oh, there's an eyelash, there's another eyelash.

Hannah Nordberg: I have two. Getting my wedges (high heels) and...finding out I got this part. And meeting this cast.

Alivia Clark: I have a lot. I mean, you know, my life is really great. Maybe going on my first cruise, and definitiely finding out that I got this.

Victoria Dennis: I feel like this opportunity is amazing, just to have the chance to be on the New York stage. Getting Little Miss Sunshine was like, the number-one best moment of my life.

Alivia Clark, Hannah Nordberg, and Victoria Dennis in Little Miss Sunshine.
(© Joan Marcus)