Amelie the Musical at Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

This hit new musical is talk of the town, and I can see why. It’s not afraid of being different, bold and quirky – and it’s clearly not afraid of not being everyone’s cup of tea, which I appreciate and admire. It’s apparent that the cast truly believe in the off-beat musical world they’ve created, a characterful musical adaptation of the film Amelie.

I’ve never seen the film, so it’s hard to know exactly what the musical’s based on or how many moments are meant to strike a chord with lovers of the movie. In some ways, it’s refreshing to see something like this as the newbie, offering an unaffected viewpoint on the show.

The story follows the insular yet likeable Amelie as she essentially runs away from home following the death of her mother, and lives her life simply avoiding any meaningful interactions with others. When she finds a box of treasures and traces the owner, she realises getting involved in other people’s business is right up her street, and so sets about trying to make the world a better place in her own unique way. When she falls in love with the equally bizarre Nino, who spends his time collecting discarded passport photographs, can the odd pair ever overcome their own internal struggles and find happiness?

The first act is delightful, if you can move past quite how quirky the whole thing is. The cast are exceptionally talented, playing instruments seamlessly as part of the action. The show is expositional, but benefits from this, and it breaks the fourth wall well without being annoying. The set from Madeleine Girling is undoubtedly Parisian, as is the music and we’re transported into this mythical, magical European world within moments. The adorable Audrey Brisson as Amelie guides the show with a whimsical flair, which unfortunately becomes a little grating in the second half as she chases/hides from Nino with irritating repetition.

The writers, Craig Lucas, Daniel Messe and Nathan Tysen are clearly spinning a magical musical world out of not a lot of plot. Essentially, this is a character-led piece and I’m not sure there’s enough meat on its bones to really make for a two hour show. The second half could do with being pruned down quite substantially in my opinion, to keep the action condensed.

Danny Mac as Nino is a beautiful character, partly due to Danny Mac being beautiful though. He doesn’t have the strength or swagger I’ve seen in previous roles and it’s interesting to see more vulnerability come out in this role. He seems somewhat out of place amongst the rest of the cast, with a charisma that manages to steal the stage a lot of the time.

I’d definitely recommend going along to see the show, for its artistry and musicality if nothing else. It’s different in a sweet and inoffensive way, trying to add subtlety and introversion into a world of loud musical theatre shows filled with jazz hands.

Catch the show at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, until 6th July.

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