have to have a huge sweet tooth to enjoy AMELIE, but it will surely help
if you do.
Adapted from the 2011 whimsical French film of the same name, AMELIE has
been turned into an offbeat, cotton-candy musical by its creative team
(Craig Lucas, Daniel Messe and Nathan Tysen), all of whom are experienced
Broadway practitioners who know how to please large audiences.
AMELIE comes to the Ahmanson Theatre after its 2015 premiere at Berkley
Rep with Phillipa Soo replacing Samantha Barks in the lead role (and with
Savvy Crawford playing her as a goldfish-loving child). Soos Amelie
is shy, lonely and fey, a girl who lives more in her imagination than
in life, though she does try and do good by her pals, the raffish denizens
of a cartoon-like Parisian neighborhood.
In turn, they try to get her to fall for the suitably odd young man, Nino
(Adam Chanler-Berat), whom she met at a train-station photo booth where
he was collecting pics for a collage. Romance follows, fitfully but inexorably,
with these two misfits finally discovering what adult love is all about.
Both as film
and musical, AMELIE is a fairy-tale, one which depends on charm and lightness
of touch to succeed. Thanks to Pam MacKinnons artful direction,
AMELIE flies by on gossamer wings from start to finish, aided by David
Zinns highly-colored, outrageous set designs and costumes. As for
Messe and Tysens score, it is a pastiche of styles ranging from
rock to parody to ballad, but there is no mistaking its liveliness and
appeal, even though few of its tunes could be called memorable. But Soos
soprano voice was thrilling and she carried the show effortlessly on her
shoulders, giving a star-making performance.
It remains to be see whether AMELIE will have strong enough legs to succeed
on Broadway next year.
(Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave. 213-972-4400 or visit centertheatregroup.org)