Michael Fentiman brings Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 film AMELIE to life on stage, delivering a fresh and new interpretation of this much-loved romantic comedy
Adapting a film into a musical can be a tricky business but Director Michael Fentiman has done an impressive job of bringing French movie AMELIE to the stage, delivering a fresh and new interpretation of this much-loved romantic comedy.
AMELIE is a musical with dreamers at its heart. A child’s need for affection – to simply hold her father’s hand – has led to a life of solitude for the title character. Quietly watching the lives of people who work at the café where she is a waitress, Amelie dreams up ways to help them solve problems and find love, all whilst avoiding it herself. But when love finally does head Amelie’s way, she dreams up all the reasons it can’t happen and what she can do to avoid it.
French-Canadian actress Audrey Brisson is perfect in the lead role of Amelie, not only because of her authentic French accent, but also her look, which bears a striking resemblance to Audrey Tatu who played the character in the original 2001 film. Brisson’s loveable, quirky manner draws you in, her interpretive hand movements showing that you don’t always need words to express emotion.
Former STRICTLY COME DANCING finalist Danny Mac also delivers an impressive performance as Nico, the person to catch Amelie’s heart, proving he can not only dance but sing too, all with a surprisingly authentic French accent. Having carved himself an impressive CV of musical roles from SUNSET BOULEVARD to ON THE TOWN, his vocals bring an endearing quality to the role of Nino, a gentle soul who collects torn up photo booth pictures of strangers, a man who, like Amelie, also spends his time following other people’s stories.
There are some beautiful moments throughout, the talented ensemble not only singing and dancing but also playing musical instruments on stage, each revealing their own character’s story. The puppetry at the beginning of Act One helps to bring alive flashback moments from Amelie’s childhood, helping to explain why she prefers to be isolated and her father’s resistance to touching his daughter. A scene involving giants figs and an Elton John cameo (Caolan McCarthy) also brings some light relief to this otherwise dark story, resulting in plenty of laughs from the audience.
A special mention must go to Madeleine Girling, whose beautifully intricate set sees the action flow effortlessly between the Metro and the cafe with a simple movement of chairs and flashing of lights. The MARY POPPINS style lamp transportation from street to home gives moments of light and shade to Amelie often while Tom Marshall’s soundscape helps transport the audience to the Parisian streets of Montmartre.
You also don’t need to see Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s original film to appreciate the magic of the story, with Director Michael Fentiman effectively bringing to life a dreamer’s view of the world in which everyone is connected.
AMELIE THE MUSICAL runs at Manchester’s Opera House until from 6 to 10 August 2019.
Vikki Rutter is a North West review writer, working in the glamorous world of TV. Lover of travel and cats, although travelling cats not so much.