The only thing worse than calculated whimsy is calculated French whimsy… BUT this show is a sweet, sincere and quietly magical delight. Somehow it is actually less “stagey” and staged than the movie while retaining those flights of fancy as our heroine slowly learns to live and love. When I say it is breathtaking, it is because the whole theatre was completely silent during the final scene. You could have heard a pin drop as a thousand breaths were held for the final achingly, ravishingly romantic denouement. Pure heaven.
It is the highest praise when I say the show reminds me of Come From Away. There are no big showstopping numbers just a gentle score which builds and builds, sneaking past your defences and carrying you to the exquisitely emotional end.
Leading lady Audrey Brisson is a revelation. Somehow she recreates the gamine and emotionally crippled essence of Audrey Tatou’s big screen version yet also makes it her own. She is little more raw, a little more real, with a real talent for physical comedy and a wonderfully expressive face which communicates every hope, disappointment and joy.
Danny Mac hides his Disney prince looks and physique under a scruffy beard, glasses and baggy clothes which allows his very real talents to shine. He is winningly tender, with a lovely warmth to his singing voice.
Special mention also to an audacious Elton John tribute number and scene-stealing garden gnome which both brought the house down.
Inventive, charming staging and a strong ensemble create their own fairytale. Apart from the two leads, everyone else on stage plays an instrument. The choreography eschews set dance numbers in favour of movement which celebrates the mood of each moment.
It all combines to create a completely immersive experience that draws the audience in until, just like the players, we no longer know or care where fantasy and reality divide.
What we do emphatically know is that we care about whether Amelie will finally be able to embrace and accept the love which is offered.
Those final moments are one of the most beautiful things I have seen in any show, musical or otherwise. The pin-dropping silence was followed by many happy sniffles around the theatre as fantasy became reality.
This UK touring production is a huge, delightful surprise and hopefully deserves a place on the West End very soon.
AMELIE THE MUSICAL AT THE NEW WIMBLEDON THEATRE TO MAY 26: FULL UK TOUR DATES AND TICKET INFORMATION
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