Touring– reviewed at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London
As sweet-sharp as a diabolo grenadine, Amélie the Musical has lost none of its inimitable charm as it gears up for a considerable UK tour. I adored it at the Watermill but the intimacy there left me wondering how the show would fare in the significantly larger houses to which it will be touring. Turns out I need not have worried.
Michael Fentiman’s production has expanded perfectly to fill the space. A few more ensemble members here, a tweak to Madeleine Girling’s canny set design there, and the show has lost nothing of itself or its kooky Parisian whirl. If anything the actor-muso ensemble’s reinterpretation of Daniel Messé’s score sounds even better than before under George Francis’ musical direction.
Audrey Brisson’s Amélie remains a real gift. Determined to be “a mystery wrapped in an enigma trapped in a paradox disappearing into thin air”, she’s nonetheless evidence of the ripple effect of even the smallest act of kindness. And it feels important that no easy answers are presented to the social anxiety that plagues her – the prospect of future happiness with Nino (Danny Mac stepping into the role) is by no means a certain thing, but the silence with which these two finally make it IRL is one of the most deeply romantic things I’ve seen on stage all year.
And on second viewing, I could allow myself more time to appreciate how stellar this ensemble is. Jez Unwin’s Bretodeau is heart-catchingly beautiful as he recalls ‘How To Tell Time’, Kate Robson-Stuart’s dynamic Suzanne is a delight and her violin playing is so very beautifully expressive, and Caolan McCarthy’s Elton John oozes so much charisma that you surely don’t need to go and see Rocketman.