Can Amélie The Musical Live Up To The Hype Of The Film?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s popular 2001 French film Amélie is so unique and iconic that the thought of it working on stage may prompt many a ‘non!’ from fans. However, Jeunet’s pièce-de-résistance has been transformed into a stunning, music-led production that has all the quirks and humour of the film — and more.
Amélie, directed by Michael Fentiman, and the production’s epic numbers, will transport you to 90s Paris quicker than a Metro train. All of the actors in Amélie are also musicians — they play the soundtrack to the Parisian-style songs on stage (accordions included, obviously). Dancing, singing, acting, and playing an instrument simultaneously is no easy task, but one which the cast pulls off wonderfully. The only actor not to carry an instrument is Audrey Brisson, who plays the petite, whimsical, yet ultimately lonely Amélie, a young woman determined to perform acts of kindness in Montmartre that will make her as liked as Lady Di.
The clever set design, which transforms pianos into stages, photo booths into front doors, and clocks into bedrooms, makes use of the relatively small stage very well. And with violinists, cellists, flautists and accordion players a plenty, you can imagine space is much needed.
Puppets bring Amélie’s goldfish and the garden gnome alive, with much comic effect, and the young Amélie (another puppet) is so lifelike, with blinking eyes and believable facial expressions, it is easy to forget it is just a doll on stage. The songs are, for the most part, delightful, mixing humour, French flair and a whole heap of harmonies to tell Amélie’s story. A particular highlight is when Caolan McCarthy's Elton John appears on stage, playing a song so reminiscent of John himself that it could easily be passed off as one of the musician’s unknown tracks.
Some admittedly questionable French accents can be pushed to the sidelines, as can a couple of the soppier songs, and the storyline is fairly simple, so don’t expect a deep, meaningful tale. The story does, however, end in a kiss — not a sickly sweet happily ever after ending, though — but a more real, yet thoroughly heart-warming final scene.
Utterly brilliant, and a perfect antidote to a cold, election-dominated December, Amélie will leave you on a high, Parisian-style.
Amélie, The Other Palace, 12 Palace Street, SW1E 5JA. Tickets from £19.50, Until 1 February 2020.
Last Updated 04 December 2019