Based on the popular Oscar nominated Film, Amelie is the musical telling of a young French woman who creates intricate fantasy stories to protect her from the harsher and more hurtful sides of her life.
An ensemble cast who double as instrumentalists enter the streets of Paris 1997 set, (effectively designed by Madeleine Girling), which take us to shops, cafe’s ,train stations and confession booths in Amelie’s search for love and understanding. Audrey Brisson and Danny Mac sing and act impressively the wonderment of two people coming together, revealing the tender story’s theme of how the beauty of two connected people can replace the darker moments of life’s journey.
Adapted with great poetic wit by writer Craig Lucas, the story elevates everyday random events to wonderment, through the music and lyrics of Nathan Tyen and Daniel Messe’. Often bordering on the surreal, there is a unique moment where Amelie watches the funeral of the late Princess Diana and reaches into the television to borrow her tiara. Meanwhile a rollicking Elton John spoof (Caolan McCarthy) sings in an extravagant white feathered suit below, This is an example of one of the many original moments that Director Michael Fentiman executes with comic relish in a handsome transfer from the Watermill Theatre in Newbury.
Also memorable is Sophie Crawford’s song ‘I Can See Everything From Here’, as her character of Gina finally makes some realizations about her long lost love. The ensemble players elegantly switch roles and musical instruments, playing the accordian, violin, and cello of Barnaby Race’s haunting musical arrangements.
Perhaps there are moments in Act 1 where sound designer Tom Marshall could strengthen the amplification of the ensemble singing as we are digesting a lot of information quickly so occasionally lose words in the first half, which seemed to adjust by Act 2.
The skillful puppet design of young Amelie by Dik Downey and mood specific lighting design by Elliott Grigs create a unique musical about lonely hearts and souls coming together.