REVIEW: Acclaimed musical Amélie shines in Los Angeles

The musical cast of Amélie, A New Musical, adapted from the 2001 French film, performed their pre-broadway show at the Center Theater Group’s Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles. The musical made its L.A. debut at the Ahmanson Theater in December and is anticipating a move to Broadway in March.

The musical bases off the original 2001 film, which tells the whimsical story of a Parisian waitress named Amélie Poulain, who discovers an antique toy box in her apartment and is inspired to return it to its owner. Along the way, Amélie finds herself falling in love with Nino, the quirky owner of a photo scrapbook left behind at the train station.

Homeschooled by her parents, Amélie experienced a lonely childhood which nurtured an underdevelopment of her interpersonal and social skills. With a goldfish as her only companion, Amélie developed a unique sense of creativity and imagination as she was forced to be on her own.

The musical follows Amélie’s adventures as she inspires to bring genuine moments of joy and happiness into the lives of others. Amélie lives a complacent life of mediocrity, taking pleasure in the brief and minute moments of cheerfulness.

As a fully capable and independent young woman, she genuinely cares about the people in her life, such as her co-workers at the cafe, her father and her elderly neighbors. Amélie finds happiness in her own life by selflessly securing happiness of others.

Phillipa Soo stars as Amélie in this new musical. Soo is best known for her role as Eliza, Alexander Hamilton’s wife in the Broadway hit Hamilton.

She was nominated for a Tony Award for her stellar performances as a caring mother and wife.

Soo plays the character of Amélie gracefully and fearlessly; she is shy, sincere and pure. Soo unequivocally brings the magic and charm of the character to life, acting as the heart of the show.

Soo successfully portrays Amélie’s ambivalence toward being noticed by society and desire to remain hidden alone in the bastion of her apartment. Not only does Amélie’s character strike a balance between eccentric and banal, but the rest of the characters in the musical also display idiosyncratic qualities.

The supporting cast is a collection of hopeless comedic individuals ranging from a cafe co-worker obsessed with letters from her long-lost husband to an elderly neighbor who spends his days painting zoomed-in versions of the same painting to Nino, Amélie’s counterpart, who pieces together ripped, forgotten pictures from a photobooth at the train station. These exaggerated character types effectively create a world within Amélie unlike any other.

Although the storyline is small-scale, Amélie’s focus on the nuanced everyday events of life make the musical experience unique and nostalgic in itself. Amélie fuels its audience with its continuous, fairytale-like music numbers filled with curiosity about the everyday life of a Parisian.

The continuous music flows from piece to piece, keeping audiences engaged with a wide variety of moods and styles. The music reflects the quirky tone and lighthearted story of the musical. Not to mention, Soo’s voice pairs exceptionally well with the orchestral harmonies of each song.

Throughout the show, Amélie uses a variety of vibrant and colorful stage sets along with projected images that make the musical even more enjoyable to watch.

From the shimmery blue streamers of the ocean, to a romantic starry night projection in Paris, to the LED signage of the cafe and sex shop, Amélie truly does a spectacular job engaging the audience in every set.

Amélie ends on a touching moment as Amélie and Nino finally meet, no longer giving Amélie a place to hide. The trivial aspects of the storyline touches upon the idea that love and happiness can be found in the most unusual places for even the quirkiest individuals.

After having its time in Los Angeles, Amélie will move on to bigger and better things, officially debuting on the Broadway stage on April 3.