Amélie the Musical
Daniel Messé
Original Broadway Cast
Warner Classics 0190295957988

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 super-cute French film Amélie starring Audrey Tautou was a big hit at the box office, but this new musical based on the movie hasn’t manage to repeat that success. With music by Daniel Messé, book by Craig Lucas, and lyrics by Messé and Nathan Tysen, it opened on Broadway in April to mixed reviews and closed in late May.

Sticking pretty closely to the film’s plot, the musical tells the story of a shy, lonely waitress, a dreamer since childhood, who moves to Paris where she performs anonymous acts of kindness, befriends an elderly painter and finally finds love. Much of the film happened in Amélie’s mind and imagination; here that’s told through song, with the liner notes explaining what is happening in the scenes between.

Backed by a simple combination of piano and strings, with lyrics that trip nicely off the tongue, the songs are pleasant enough. Times for Dreamers, the song which opens the show and which is then reprised several times, serving as a musical theme, is a particularly pretty melody, which quickly grows on you. But there’s little sense of the French location (no accordion as in the film).

Phillipa Soo (Hamilton) who plays Amélie has a lovely, radiant voice, while Australian performer Tony Sheldon brings plenty of character to the kindly painter Dufayel. It’s a sweet show musically, with some lovely, wistful ballads, but it’s never going to set the world alight.