Book: Craig Lucas
Music: Daniel Messé
Lyrics: Nathan Tysen & Daniel Messé
Director: Michael Fentiman
Reviewer: Matt Forrest
Back in 2001 a relatively small budget French/German co-production called Amélie, became a monster hit, garnering both commercial and critical success: it did huge numbers at the box office, was in the running during award season, but more importantly than that this modern day fairy-tale became a much loved and cherished film for movie fans from all across the globe. It would be a brave, some may even say foolish endeavour to adapt this cinematic cult classic for the theatre, but adapted it is, with remarkable and joyous results!
Telling the story of Amélie (Audrey Brisson), a socially awkward waitress, with a heart as big as her imagination (which is pretty bloody big!). In the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death, Amélie, takes it upon herself to improve the lives of those around her: be it work colleagues, customers in the café, or complete strangers, Amélie’s clandestine acts of kindness bring happiness and joy to all who they touch: methods range from the sweet to the absurd: however the outcome is always positive.
However, it’s not all sweetness and light for Amélie, her troubled up bringing at the hands of her neurotic, cold parents have left her fragile and fearful of finding truth happiness for herself. A chance encounter, with Nino (Danny Mac), a fellow loner who collects disused photographs of strangers from Parisian photobooths, stirs up emotions in the young waitress. Amélie soon realises she is falling in love, but will she think about herself for a change and take a chance at finding happiness for herself?
From the moment the ensemble cast of actors/musicians arrive on stage for the opening number, The Flight of the Blue Fly, you know you’re in for something special, the stage is awash with bright, vibrant colours and costumes, setting the tone for a musical packed fully of whimsey and charm.
Brisson gives a towering performance as diminutive heroine, charming, quirky with a great deal of bite. Despite all that is going on around her, her performance is undoubtedly the focal point of the show, a blend of comedy sadness, with more being said physically than verbally. It also helps that she has great singing voice too.
Despite the a few dodgy “Allo Allo” accents flying about, the ensemble cast are on fine form, putting in solid turns as the supporting characters. Their musicianship and ability to play, sing, and dance during many of the productions set pieces is outstanding.
The creative team have gone town brining this fantastical world to life, there is giant globe trotting gnome, three vengeful giant figs, a gorgeous wooden puppet of young Amélie, however it’s the surprising appearance of Elton John (Caolan McCarthy) that fully typifies how bonkers this production is.
At times the plot does become a little confusing, with so much from the film being crammed into the production, that you can’t help but feel a few cuts here and there would benefit the show, but this is a minor quibble for what is magical, fun, touching and unique production. Like the titular protagonist, this musical will put a smile on your face and make your day that little brighter, which can’t be a bad thing can it?
Runs untill 10 August 2019 | Image: Contributed