Amélie is a musical based on the iconic film that first premiered on Broadway. The Watermill Theatre’s brand new production strips it right back to its whimsical storytelling performed by an exceptional cast cast.
I’d heard of the film and wasn’t overly familiar with the story, but Amélie is a story about connections and self-discovery. We meet Amélie as a child growing up in France in a sheltered household. Her life then takes her to Paris where she unexpectantly falls in love.
After its Broadway run in 2017, the Watermill Theatre have worked with the creators Craig Lucas, Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen to rework the material to create the most captivating score. Musical supervisor Barnaby Race has taken the score to a completely new level as it is interwoven throughout the dialogue to breathe real heart into the story.
It’s almost as if Audrey Brisson was born to play Amélie, as she brings a delicate innocence and authentic charm to the role. She is quirky and unique as the young daydreamer. We meet her as she is struggling to find her place in the world, but when she falls deeply for a stranger that collects photobooth pictures in a scrapbook who she forms a connection with when leading him on a treasure hunt across the city. Brisson not only completely mesmerises with her character, but her voice is simply heavenly. Her rendition of Halfway sung whilst playing the piano sent shivers up my spine – it was a theatrical moment I want to remember forever.
Opposite her in the role of love interest Nino is Chris Jared, who is superbly mysterious and instantly likeable. They ooze chemistry through their awkward conversation and shy personas and as their romance progresses it feels warm and genuine. Their final duet Where Do We Go From Here is hopeful, gentle and clings to all you emotions.
The Watermill Theatre feels enchanting as soon as you walk in, but the way they create these gloriously intimate productions is just astonishing. The actor/musicians that bring the characters and story to life are just exceptional and the small theatre transports you to the heart of Paris through Madeleine Girling’s set design. The music is encapsulating and the combination of instruments and rich vocals is sublime – I don’t think I’ve ever had goosebumps in the theatre as much as I had during this show. The score gets right inside you, it’s a soul-stirring, breath-taking performance.
Moments like this in theatre are rare, but Amélie at the Watermill really is something special. It is heartachingly beautiful, witty and utterly magical.
Amélie is on at The Watermill Theatre until Saturday 18th of May before heading out on a UK tour. Tickets and information can be found on their website.
Photo credit: Pamela Raith