AMÉLIE:: Adam Chanler-Berat & Phillipa Soo. Photo: Joan Marcus

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Book by Craig Lucas
Music by Daniel Messe
Lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Mr. Messe
Based on the movie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant
Directed by Pam MacKinnon
Choreography by Sam Pinkleton
Walter Kerr Theatre
219 West 48th Street
New York, NY


By David NouNou

Look up the definition of asphyxiation: “the state or process of being deprived of oxygen, which can result in unconsciousness or death; suffocation.” Asphyxiate is exactly what the creators and Pam McKinnon have done to the enchanting , quirky 2001 French film Amélie, which was set in Paris. Supposedly it is still set in Paris but you would never know it, other than French names of characters and avenues being mentioned. What was once an enchanting, charming and a colorful motion picture full of visual delights has been reduced to slow-motion comic strips devoid of whimsy or fairytale delights.

Amélie (Phillipa Soo), born to very strict parents, home schooled and her lonely childhood filled with daydreaming, has grown up and moved to Paris. There she works in a café owned by Suzanne (Harriet D. Foy), lives opposite a wise old painter, Dufayel (Tony Sheldon), swirls around many characters circling her orbit and naturally a boyfriend, Nino (Adam Chanler-Berat). There’s even an Elton John-style character called “Rock Star” (Randy Blair), thrown in for no apparent reason.

Once in Paris, Amélie finds an old treasure box under the floor boards in her apartment. She also learns of the death of Princess Diana and her philanthropic deeds. With this news, Amélie starts on her yellow brick road to find the owner of the box and start doing good deeds for others. With this transformation she in turn transforms her life as well as others.

In the movie it was a lovely yarn set all around Paris and the magic that fills the city. In this version it can be anywhere USA, but we are told it is Paris. The score is lifeless and dreary; no lilting French music or haunting melodies, just dirges. What should have been lighter-than-air direction is a plodfest of caricature thanks to Pam McKinnon.

Phillipa Soo (of Hamilton fame) gives her all to muster some life into the show, but the leaden material she is given drowns her. Tony Sheldon, as the wise neighbor and painter, comes off best; he is a pure delight.

Amélie is the latest victim to join the ranks of such dreadful, misguided musicals based on films that should never have been musicalized: Bonnie and Clyde, American Psycho, Honeymoon In Vegas, Bullets Over Broadway and the most epic dud of them all, Dr. Zhivago.



Edited by Scott Harrah
Published April 7, 2017
Reviewed at press performance on April 6, 2017


‘AMÉLIE:’: Phillipa Soo & cast. Photo: Joan Marcus

‘AMÉLIE’: Phillipa Soo, David Andino & cast. Photo: Joan Marcus


‘AMELIÉ::’: Phillipa Soo & Adam Chanler-Berat. Photo: Joan Marcus


‘AMÉLIE’: The cast & Phillipa Soo. Photo: Joan Marcus

‘AMELIE’: Adam Chanler-Berat & cast. Photo: Joan Marcus


‘AMÉLIE’: Adam Chanler-Berat & Phillipa Soo. Photo: Joan Marcus


‘AMELIE’: Adam Chanler-Berat & Phillipa Soo. Photo: Joan Marcus


‘AMÉLIE’: Tony Sheldon & Phillipa Soo. Photo: Joan Marcus


‘AMÉLIE’: Phillipa Soo & Savvy Crawford. Photo: Joan Marcus

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