Amélie The Musical – Gaiety Theatre – Review
Dates: 28th May. – 1st June
Amélie is a young woman lost in her own dream world. She works as a waitress in a local Parisian cafe but really she spends most of her time in her imagination. She had a difficult upbringing which has left her detached. Her father was a doctor who was a touch distant and her mother was neurotic! These elements combined to make her live in a fantasy world. That is until she spies a young man who threatens to draw her back to reality.
As most will already know, this is based on the film of the same name, which is now amazingly 18 years old having been released in 2001. The film was a worldwide success and helped launch the career of Audrey Tautou, who has since gone on to perform in films such as Dirty Pretty Things and the Da Vinci Code. Amélie was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet who creates an air of magic in all his work and this was no different, capturing the hearts of many with its sweet and sad love story.
This production is by Selladoor who are a regular on stage at the Gaiety, with productions such as Madagascar, Avenue Q and American Idiot in the last few months alone. This production is on tour in the UK until the end of August, with the Gaiety its only appearance in the Republic or Ireland.
This musical conversion of the film and stays true to the formula, script and style of the original. The main difference are the near constant musical score and bursts of song. There are 15 cast members and almost all of them play an instrument, with piano, violins, cello, flutes and accordions all featuring in a mix of arrangements. This variation gives the play a fresh and light feel and the band constantly changes depending on who is on stage. This is definitely not your typical musical and will appeal to a wider than average audience range. The highest praise you can give the band is that you’d happily go to see them play by themselves. They are a large ensemble and show their full range over the course of the show, moving from one style to the next. Their Gospel song at the end of the first act being one of the highlights!
There was always a danger that this production might not capture the magic of the film. The movie relied on visual trickery to achieve some of the more memorable moments, with a variety of special effects. While the stage version does not have these gimmicks, it is still a feast for the eyes with choreographed movement and clever touches throughout. There are puppets, masks and a variety of oddities throughout the show, with inventive ideas and clever touches. The only downside is that it runs for nearly three hours, which is long even for a production with this much invention and creativity. With a touch of magic, lots of flair and a real feel good factor, this is an easy one to recommend.