Review by Mavis Manus

You don’t 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). Soo’s 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 MacKinnon’s artful direction, AMELIE flies by on gossamer wings from start to finish, aided by David Zinn’s highly-colored, outrageous set designs and costumes. As for Messe and Tysen’s 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 Soo’s 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