Amélie the Musical, The Watermill Theatre.
Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸
Masterfully created, delicately stylistic and emotionally real.
Amélie, based on the five-time Oscar nominated, French art- house film of the same name, is an uplifting Parisian tale about human connection, through both solitude and love. It follows Amélie from her unusual childhood, to her present day escape to Paris, a city in which she works in a cafe, examining the world going by around her. It is Amélie’s aberrant ability to see the positive side of anything with her abundant curiosity and quietly observing nature that leads her into a cycle of anonymously helping the city’s inhabitants one by one, ‘like Lady Di’. A chain reaction that soon sparks Nino’s interest and the game of cat and mouse is afoot. With a whimsical score and tantalising design, the show has the complete winning formula, an exceedingly talented cast, wit and humour to boot and a faultless composition.
Hartshorn-Hook and Selladoor’s new production seen at The Watermill Theatre is a absolute triumph.Audrey Brisson is delectable, she delivers Amélie’s story with measured sincerity and passion, a twinkle in her eye throughout, not to mention her voice is stunning. Supported by a mind-blowingly talented cast of actor-muso’s, all of whom portray a wide assortment of characters with ease and frivolity, there really isn’t anything this company aren’t capable of. What we are left with is a perfectly charming, audacious and uplifting tale, conveying the fragility of the human condition and jovial sentiment of the film, enacting much like an intimate treasure trove full of wonder and surprise, driven by intertwining narratives, intricate and affecting moments of detail, and exciting bursts of choreography and puppetry. The atmospheric impression and folk-pop score is much like that of Once The Musical or even Come From Away. This magical, feel-good masterclass in musical theatre is quite simply unmissable, the skill level is off the charts and sincerity envious.
Amélie the Musical, New Wimbledon Theatre
We caught up with Amélie once more to see how it’s scaled up for a national tour, going from playing to a 220 capacity on a much smaller stage at The Watermill in Newbury, to that of 1600+ seats here in its London-based venue and we are pleased to say that the show remains intrinsic in its intimacy and intricacy. The measured moments of silence and exceedingly inventive puppeteered or choreographed sections affect and endure as before. The set having been opened out, now leaves more room for the actors and their various instruments at weave and intertwine between each other, the cast (having been joined by a few fresh faces, now numbering 16 actor-musos in total) thrive in their larger, but not too large, playing space.
Regarding the overall affect of Madeleine Girling’s set, the design is incredibly malleable whilst faithful to both the film and overall stylistic sentiment of the piece; remaining the same throughout, the set pieces can be moved and changed to create various locations such as the Two Windmills Cafe, (Amélie’s place of work), the Paris metro and all things in between as Amélie runs around the city to accomplish small acts of kindness. Yet the contestants are the most poignant, Amélie’s window leading to her room and the photo-booth. Her circular window looms over the playing space a signifier of her solitude and place of safety that she often retreats into and dreams within. The photo booth alternatively remains as a connection between her and love interest Nino, as the location of their first encounter. Yet the photo booth, much like the pianos becomes so much more, all three turning and adapting to become various other locations, such as the sex shop in which Nino works, a merry go round, tobacconists, phone-booth and front doors to name but a few. A playful offering. Girling proving herself to be both innovative and bold, creating a practical and exciting set that also engenders the Parisian backdrop through it’s art-deco composition.
Audrey Brisson is still a sparkling dream! Her characterisation is unparalleled whilst her voice is simply stunning, there could be no other Amélie. Equally, Danny Mac‘s Nino is wondrously understated and pure, his vocal tonality just pours into you. As previously, the ensemble are the most talented performers around, quadruple threats each unique, providing a range of characters and caricatures. As aforementioned, the piece retains the sprit of the film, visually through both its set and sepia lighting, a foggy haze that captures the art-house idea of Paris phenomenally well. Whilst over all the film’s sentimentality is delivered by the inherent surrealism and blunt humour in the direction, amalgamated by the wacky costumes and use of wondrous puppetry and movement.
A particularly beautiful through-concept is Amélie’s heartbeat, we hear it when her heart ‘fills with love’ at the point of what she sees as affection from her father, the result is a fast melodic motif, made of racing violins, drums and keys with a series harmonised vocal beats. The sound bite recurring on each and every occasion in which she sees Nino, even before she can decipher her feelings, we know what they are. Demonstrating her inward expression, plus the difficulty of her own vehemence and struggle to communicate her emotions. All whilst the piece is colourfully communicated and moved along by the ensemble, who are not only all indomitable performers, they are equally vehicles for the plot, clear narrators in Amélie’s sporadic journey between secret acts and toying with Nino, wonderful grounding points for both the stylistic nature of the work and overall narratorial arc, connecting point A to point B.
To conclude the work is portentously inventive, brimming with talent and enviously unique. Pure and simply beautiful and unmissable. Now embarking on a national tour! Click here.
Audrey Brisson – Amelie
Chris Jared – Nino Quincampoix – Watermill performances.
Oliver Grant – Lucien/Mysterious Man.
Samuel Morgan-Grahame – Joseph/Fluffy.
Sioned Saunders – Gina.
Johnson Willis – Collignon/Dufayel.
Caolan McCarthy – Hippolita/Elton John
Faoileann Cunningham – Georgette / Sylvia
Kate Robson-Stuart – Suzanne
Josh Sneesby – Blind Beggar / Gnome
Jez Unwin – Raphael / Bretodeau
Rachel Dawson – Andamine / Philomene
Danny Mac – Nino Quincampoix – on tour
Sophie Crawford – Gina
Nuwan Hugh Perera – Jean-Yves
Chris Jared – Raymond
Charlie Magalit – Cecile
Emma Jane Morton – Delphine
Daniel Messé – Music and Lyrics
Nathan Tysen – Lyrics
Craig Lucas – Book
Michael Fentiman – Director
Madeleine Girling – Design
Tom Jackson Greaves – Choreographer
Barnaby Race – Orchestrations and arrangements
George Francis – Musical supervision and direction
Elliot Griggs – Lighting design
Tom Marshall – Sound design