Based on the hit 2001 French film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant of the same name, Amélie tells the story of a young Parisian waitress living in her own little vibrant world. Following a sell-out tour in 2019, the musical adaptation has finally arrived in the West End.
I must confess, I have not yet seen the motion picture although I am familiar with it, but after watching the show, Amélie is certainly at the top of my must watch list. Michael Fentiman’s production certainly creates the imaginative world of the young heroine I was hoping for. From the joyful opening number to Dik Downey’s creative puppetry of Amélie as a child struggling to cope with her distant father (Jez Unwin), the production really delves into the colourful imagination of the quirky lead.
Audrey Brisson plays the titular role and truly embodies Amélie’s awkward yet hilarious nature as she tries to help her friends and those she meets whilst falling in love with photo-booth enthusiast Nino (Chris Jared). From writing fake love letters to stealing her father’s prized Gnome, Brisson’s hilarious yet kind-hearted performance really carries the show. Brisson’s likeable portrayal made it easy to fall in love with Amélie and root for her journey of self-discovery.
From the moment Amélie and Nino first meet, the chemistry between Brisson and Jared was palpable (emphasised by the heart beating audio and flashing lights). Seeing these two characters come together in their beautifully sung duet “Stay” was probably the most heart-warming moment in the show.
Madeleine Girling’s beautiful and genius set design is another highlight. Framed by pianos, the set is a mix of a charming French bistro and a traditional metro station offering a dreamy picture of Parisian life. It seamlessly changes at the blink of an eye, pianos transforming from bars to walkways whilst a lampshade transports Amélie up to her tiny apartment. The set is the perfect combination of fun and practicality, successfully bringing the much-loved heroine’s mystical world to life.
The multi-talented supporting cast were another highlight, the actor-musician element which has cast members circling the stage with their instruments, incorporating them into the story and choreography, was truly a delight and challenged the expectations of what a live performer can achieve. The enthusiastic and high energy cast members reminded me of seeing performers throughout the streets of Paris.
Although at times the multiple narratives were a little hard to follow (with Messe’s folk-style music dominating the actors a little) with such a strong cast, there was still a real sense of unity in every scene. From Kate Robson-Stuart as Suzanne, a circus performer turned café owner to Caolan McCarthy’s portrayal of Elton John, the cast provide a multitude of hilarious and memorable moments throughout.
With all the troubles of the past year the one of the production’s strongest songs “Times are hard for Dreamers” certainly rings true especially for the arts industry throughout this whole ordeal. Amélie is a story of love, hope and happiness, offering a light the end of the tunnel that we could all use right now. Tickets to Amélie the Musical at the Criterion Theatre are available to book now https://ameliethemusical.com/
Reviewed by: Gemma Prince
Reviewed: 2nd June 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★
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