Wacky, weird, and truly wonderful would be a few words to describe the glorious production of Amélie, the Musical, that I had the pleasure to see on its opening night at the Northcott Theatre on the 3rd June. The performance involved fish puppetry, a singing gnome, a very talented ensemble who were able to act, sing and dance, all whilst simultaneously playing a musical instrument, and most memorably, this play also featured dancing – yes, I do mean the fruit.
The stage had been beautifully set up to resemble a Parisian metro station
The stage had been beautifully set up to resemble a Parisian metro station, but with clever intricate details within it; for example, the second level had a window that opened its doors to reveal Amélies bedroom, whilst the bottom level had a photobooth that transformed into a catholic confession booth, a house, and then back into the photobooth. Two pianos also remained on the stage throughout the play – being frequently played by the talented cast, but also having the clever multi-faceted use of additionally being a drinks cabinet, a tobacconist, and even part of a sex shop at one point…
told in an entertaining fashion
The play began by using a puppet to resemble Amélie as a child, whilst the older Amélie, played by the incredibly talented Audrey Brisson, looked on, and even cleverly imitated the puppets movements when she was seated. Amélie’s childhood was depicted as a rather sad one, although told in an entertaining fashion, with it being comic that the only time her father comes into contact with her is through him giving her a monthly examination. Her mother only saw her as trouble, and was clearly uninterested in having to school her daughter from home. However, it was also within the school room where the fish had its starring role, with the goldfish puppet jumping from its bowl and dying, causing quite a raucous from the audience as a result of this bizarre moment. Amélie was then taken to church with her mother, to pray for a boy, however her mothers storyline swiftly ended here through being crushed by a man jumping off a building nearby – a moment captured by Amélie herself as ‘squish’. From the death of her mother, Brisson, took over from the puppet, in time to watch her dad sprinkling her mothers ashes inside a gnome, and vowing to never leave said gnome. Cue further nervous laughter. And also cue Amélie’s departure from her home, with her swiftly moving to Paris and becoming a waitress.
Amélie’s simple life working in the cafe suddenly took a turn when she watched Princess Diana’s funeral on TV, and thus from this event she decided it was her mission to inflict happiness and goodwill on others – a scene that descended into an Elton John look alike performing on the piano, with all the cast singing in harmony dressed as vicars – a hilarious yet heartwarming moment to witness.
a hilarious yet heartwarming moment to witness
Amélie succeeds in pairing the tobacconist with the slightly odd but well meaning man in the cafe, and she manages to persuade her dad to finally leave his house, however, when she catches the eye of a man on the tube and heart skips a beat, she runs hurriedly away, too afraid to admit her true feelings for him. The rest of the cast worked beautifully in synchronicity with her, creating the metro alongside her through their movements from side to side in order to signal the rapid flurry of the train, whilst they additionally twirled around her with their variety of instruments ranging from flutes, to violins, and even to cellos.
Audrey Brisson was, to put it simply, magical to watch throughout this play. Her voice was compelling, and her every tiny movement captivated the audience, as we delighted in her success, and empathised with her struggles.
The rest of the cast worked beautifully in synchronicity with her
However, the music really was the highlight of this performance, and was what made the play so special to watch. Amélie ended beautifully, with Amélie’s character finally facing up to her fears and meeting the man she first saw on the tube. She gracefully climbed down from her bedroom, and he climbed up from the street, and they met on top of the multi-faceted box that also doubled as the photobooth. Underneath them, all the cast gathered around them on the stage, playing a soft melody as Amélie gently kissed her loves cheek. The two ventured down into the photobooth, closed the curtain, and the play ended with a flash from the camera lighting up the stage, just as this performance lit up the theatre for the previous two and a half hours.bookmark me