Amélie The Musical Review | Opera House | Manchester
The French marvel, Amélie is bringing her far-flung adventure to the Opera House theatre by building on the fast-paced 2001 romcom that bears her name. With its stage production serving the trademark charm of its predecessor, a wonderfully warm and musically revamped revival reflects on what we all take for granted, along with life’s small pleasures.
Like a female Tim Robbins, Amélie inspires people to create their own change using her secret powers of suggestion. Planting clues and offering cues to favourably impact the lives of others, the story mixes Amélie solitude with the chaotic lives of strangers. Director, Michael Fentiman captures the films welcoming feel, aligning the theatre stalls with mini chandeliers and offering creative solutions to flaunt the immersive power of Amélie’s imagination. Fashioned by puppetry, projection and the folksy soundtrack that captures the story, the cinematic techniques utilised pulls the audience into Amélie’s enchanting world.
Raised by strict and unsociable parents, the home-schooled Amélie, left to entertain herself, retreated into her imagination and built a bubble that lasted into adulthood. Presented through a circular window in a hovering apartment above the cast on stage, the omnipresent framing of the solitary Parisian positions Amélie as a vicarious do-gooder. Looking into the intimate lives of the French community with binoculars in hand, she eventually chooses to accompany them, playfully performing alongside the multifaceted ensemble cast who don accordions, violins and flutes throughout the performance. While a few accents were modelled on Inspector Clouseau, the smooth production is able to switch its actors into musicians while simultaneously converting the sets around Amélie.
Offering a gentler pace to the film, the musical keeps its guided narrator who talks through what would have been shown on screen and explains the mischievously introvert’s imaginative nature. Alongside Amelie’s quiet and charming reflections that are played out through the use of quirky songs, the majority of the tracks are delightfully devoted to love. Nathan Tysen and Daniel Messé lyrics describe the majority of the characters through songs like There's No Place Like Gnome and Sister's Pickle to present a small profile on the multiple mini characters that drive the story. Its result is a collaborative effort that gives all its cast members a chance to shine.
Michael Fentiman’s whimsical direction includes secretive reveals and stunning spotlighting that brings the romantic spirit of Paris to the Opera House. The illuminating set matches the shows fantastical storytelling, with a polished production that visually infuses Audrey Brisson’s energy as the innocent and the interfering Amélie. Brisson’s passionate performance shelters a range of songs, from the solemn Times Are Hard for Dreamers to the comical Goodbye, Amélie. Enrapturing the audience in everyone’s strange and unique take on the world, the show will strike a chord with anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t fit in.
Amélie the musical does not miss a beat from the film, taking every memorable moment and attempting to recreate it for the stage. Yet, the musicals best moments are in its original take, balancing the romantic brand of its film with its own stunning attention to detail and enchanting music.