Amélie is the story of an astonishing young woman who lives quietly in the world, but loudly in her mind. She secretly improvises small, but extraordinary acts of kindness that bring happiness to those around her. But when a chance at love comes her way, Amélie realises that to find her own contentment she’ll have to risk everything and say what’s in her heart.
Actor-musician productions are incredibly difficult to get right and, from my experience, miss the mark more often than not. But here’s a production that has absolutely nailed it. The sound that emerges from the stage is exquisite, though emerge is perhaps too strong a word for something so delicate. Beautiful in both melody and lyric, it’s hard not to become obsessed with Barnaby Race’s arrangements of Daniel Messé’s music.
The intertwining of the musicians into the show is nothing short of outstanding thanks to director Michael Fentiman. They are gently woven into the production. The vision and format is perfect for the story trying to be told – a quirky but intricate tale of love’s uncertainty.
The musical’s mantra seems to be ‘everything in moderation’ – a bit of romance, a bit of emotion, even a bit of comedy – look out for the travelling gnome and Elton John tribute! Every detail is subtlety crafted to suit Amélie and her story. And Amélie herself? It’s hard to imagine anyone better for this role than Audrey Brisson. She’s captivating yet unconventional – everything you would expect in the role. She holds the audience’s hand through the show with a gorgeous voice to boot.
Danny Mac is a wonderful addition to the production. Nino is probably the best role I’ve seen him play and for me cements him as a musical theatre performer and not a soap star. The music suits his voice beautifully, and his rendition of When the Booth Goes Bright is simply stunning. Another great performance comes from Jez Unwin as Raphael/Bretodeau, whose depth of character is astonishing in both roles.
It’s not just the music and performances that are on point, but every element of the production. The lighting is excellently designed to fit the mood and highlight the significance of the photo booth. The functionality of the set is ideal, and even incorporates a little circus skill enhancing Amélie’s character. Not to mention the beautiful design from the scenery detail to the costume.
You’ll be hard-pushed to find a show that gets all the elements right so brilliantly. It has a subtle beauty about it that is unrivalled on the UK touring circuit right now. The show feels intimate even in the largest of theatres, keeping the personality of the Watermill Theatre (where it was originally performed) while bringing it’s excellence to the entire country. This is one not to miss and one you’ll remember!
Amélie is touring the country throughout 2019. Buy your tickets and check tour dates via the website.
Photo credit: Pamela Raith Photography