Amelie (UK Tour), Manchester Opera House | Review

August 09, 2019

Manchester Opera House
Reviewed by Mia Goddard

On the evening of my birthday I was transported to Paris to catch a wonderful new musical with a beautiful score. I didn’t know much about Amélie before I entered the theatre, in fact I only knew one song and no plot, but I’m it was a real treat to spend the evening.
This is the UK premiere of the Broadway musical Amelie which was adapted from the 2001 film. After surviving a tragic and isolated childhood, Amélie heads out on her own, joyfully finding her way through Paris and making friends along the way. Most importantly, Amélie finds love in the form of Nino, a mysterious young man, and his photo album. Living in her imaginary world of make-believe has been safe, but Amélie knows it is time to step out of her dreams and find joy for herself. With a romantic score, colourful characters, and a world of fantastical fun, Amélie is a beautiful tale for the dreamers in everyone.
The show didn’t do so well on Broadway in 2017, but the creatives along with director Michael Fentiman, have substantially reworked the material to great effect.
Madeleine Girling’s design plays up the show’s fantastical elements with some ingenious choices whose reveals are a constant delight. Elliot Griggs’ lighting is crucial in setting this visual language with all its transportative magic.
At the heart of the story, Audrey Brisson is perfect casting as Amélie. She has the kind of other-worldliness that at one glance is quirkily but at another is socially awkward. A character full of layers and contrasts: shy but intimidating, introverted and secretive but always meddling with other people’s lives. There’s a lot of depth to her character. We follow her on her amazing path to adulthood. By the second half, Amélie is not a victim of her childhood anymore, she slowly sets herself free, takes charge of her destiny and in the process finds love with the charming Nino played by Danny Mac.
Mac gives a winsome performance as Amélie’s love interest Nino, collector of discarded photo booth pictures and unlikely sex-shop worker. He showed wonderful stage presence and I loved hearing him sing ‘When The Booth Goes Bright’.
The rest of the cast is made up of actor musicians, who provide a soundtrack as beautiful as anything an orchestra could produce. There is no weak link within the cast; each and every one delivers a sensational performance and is a credit to the show. Special mention must go to Caolan McCarthy who, as Elton John, brings the first act to a show stopping end.
The costumes and decor were a perfect visual interpretation of the exaggerated, nostalgic Parisian fantasy that is an essential part of the Amélie atmosphere. There were puppets, fantastic songs, lovely choreography, magical details and a lot of wacky humour which was a surprising but a charming addition! 
I found the accents hard to understand at times however each character was distinct and memorable during this retelling of a girl who simply wants to do good things for other people. I’m so glad I was able to catch this musical whilst on tour and it was a wonderful end to my birthday. 

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