Amelie: The Musical/Malvern Theatres


ADAPTING this for the stage was never going to be a walk in the park. And that’s why it only partially succeeds.

The film of the book is well known enough which is why someone presumably had the bright idea to capitalise on the original story and make it into a musical.

And to be sure, the swirling tide of street musicians injects an added impetus, introducing a new framing of the tale of the Parisian girl who makes things happen for everyone but herself.

But the problem is that this creates a lack of definition to what are essentially stories within a story. There’s just not room enough to breathe, let alone assimilate what’s going on.

That said, Audrey Brisson is simply divine as the elfin Amelie Poulain, flitting about the stage like a good fairy dressed in everyday drab.

She bewitches souls with the guile of a latter day Joan of Arc, enchanting all she meets with a voice that brings Edith Piaf to mind.

However, the music – while comprising some pleasant tunes – never really gets close to achieving future stadium anthem status. You can forget a thousand and one cigarette lighters glowing in the dark.

And Danny Mac as main love interest Nino never gets to spread his not- inconsiderable wings. Mac is a born song and dance man, yet director Michael Fentiman keeps him firmly on a tight rein, only allowing him to shuffle about the stage looking for all the world like a myopic student on his first day at uni trying to figure out the whereabouts of the campus canteen.

Nevertheless, a fabulous set is entirely evocative of Paris, muted colours and low lights perfectly creating the mood and ambience of that wonderful French city.

This show is undeniably a feast for eyes and ears for Amelie addicts but is slightly over-long and could do with a bit of judicious pruning. It runs until Saturday (August 3).

John Phillpott