‘Amelie’ the Musical stays loyal to the 2001 film adaption.
Serving as a love letter to the city of Paris, the production blends a cacophony of sounds, light, movement, and song to create a empirical treat.
From the award-winning playwright, Craig Lucas, who also brought shows like ‘An American in Paris’ to the stage, and direction by Michael Fentiman, comes a charming and simple tale of a young woman named Amélie (Audrey Brisson).
Following years of living with her overprotective, germaphobic, infomaniac father (Jez Unwin), Amélie sets out to build a life of her own. However, she is fearful of connecting with other people, and thus, lives a life of isolation. That is until one night, upon hearing the news of Princess Diana’s death, she becomes inspired to do good deeds for others.
As she meanders through the city of Paris, encountering beggars (Josh Sneesby), an artist who claims his bones are made of glass (Johnson Willis), and Nino (Danny Mac), a shy scrapbook maker who she becomes attracted to, Amélie comes alive in a way she has never experienced before.
It is through her pursuit in creating happiness for her peers that allows an insight into the lives of the characters around her, who would otherwise appear wooden. The ensemble is strong by its own merit, each member playing their own instrument, and it’s their brand of quick, dry wit and prevailing scepticism that ground the action in a delicious Frenchness.
At times, the music overpowers the narrative, and the story becomes swallowed up by the sheer surrealism of it everything. This leaves things feeling a bit directionless at points, although things always manage to come back together through the grounded and emotive performance of Brisson.
The chemistry between Brisson and Mac is astoundingly cute. Sweeping away the bigtime show-ey romances that often feature in musicals in favour of an downplayed and quaint intimacy.
One must credit the incredible staging that truly encapsulate the whimsy and fairytale-like effect that made the movie so special. With talking fish, travelling gnomes, terrifying figs, and Elton John, the play’s sweet melodies and saccharine storytelling becomes balanced out through the quirky virtuosity.
Whilst the production takes some time to find its footing, ‘Amélie’ ultimately comes together into a cohesive, sublime, and magical spectacle.e
Review by Kevin Worrall
Don’t miss ‘Amélie’ the Musical, playing in the Gaiety Theatre until Saturday June 1st. Tickets available here