Theatre Review: Amélie, Walter Kerr Theatre, NYC

Considering which musicals to see, Owen encouraged me to see Amélie as he guesses that it’s not successful enough to ever tour or be put on again… and yet, the chance to hear Philippa Soo sing (famous from Hamilton) is a good reason, and I also wanted to see Adam Chanler-Berat, who I’d seen in Next to Normal years ago.

It was a miserable rainy day, 10 degrees Celcius or thereabouts, and it rained the WHOLE day, and I got to the theatre at 9:40am to get a rush ticket. I was successful, and also successful in that I wouldn’t have wanted to wait outside longer than that in that weather! I got a limited view seat for $40 and it was I think 5 rows back, all the way to the side, but the view was not bad at all, particularly for a Saturday evening show at 8pm (no intermission)!

I quite liked the movie, though I remember the finer details of the plot only sketchily. They came back as I watched the performance, and I think that it helps to enjoy the musical to have affection for the material on which it was based. The reviews for this show have been quite harsh, but as an attempt to showcase a starry-eyed dreamer, too much in her own imagination, I think there was some good potential. Some reviewers found the efforts too evident, and too sentimental. I thought that there was some nice whimsy.

And yes, it was wonderful to hear Soo’s amazing voice, and Chanler-Berat’s too. The songs are all very pleasant, not particularly memorable but not terrible. The supporting cast do a good job and the set is lively and colourful; it is very much a romantic proposal: to fall in love with the story, and the vision of Paris that it creates.

There were a few really terrible songs. A complete quandary of a song about… figs, I think, sung by the feeble-minded son of a green grocer, a storyline from the musical that gets lost. An Elton John imitation, linked to an idea of Amélie imagining herself as Princess Diana, was equally confounding. The random number, way too close to the finish, where three of the women cast members expound on their men problems felt like it could have been from another musical. Still, I thought that this musical had potential, cut a few songs, add a few more, try to keep the magic… but it seems it will close after only being on Broadway for a few months. So long Amélie!

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