I never saw the five-time Oscar-nominated film “Amelie,” so I had no idea what to expect as I sat down at the Ahmanson Theatre, waiting for the show to begin. And all I can say is that I experienced so much more than I expected. In fact, this was one of the best theatre experiences I’ve had in a very long time.
Well, of course I have much more to say than that. I absolutely loved this show and did not want it to end. Thanks to the brilliant book by Craig Lucas and the lovely score by Nathan Tyson and Daniel Messe, plus the amazing performance by Phillipa Soo (Amelie), straight from the Broadway production of “Hamilton,” this is a must-see show for everyone.
We first meet Amelie (Savvy Crawford) as a shy, inquisitive and charming little girl, who was born to an over-the-top neurotic mother, Amandine (Alison Cimmet) and a germaphobe father, Raphael (Manoel Feliciano), who gives her daily health checkups because he mistakingly believes his daughter has a bad heart.
Amelie feels isolated and emotionally distant from her parents. Can you blame her? Her only solace is looking through her telescope where she’s able to view the universe from afar and talking to her pet goldfish, Fluffy. No SPOILER but Fluffy is one funny dude.
Thankfully, Amelie somehow survives her grueling childhood and we flash forward to five years later where she works as a waitress at a cafe in Monmarte. She lives a quiet but happy life, with a few friends who are her co-workers. Amelie still has her incredible imagination, but now she spends her time secretly helping the people around her find happiness.
As for love, one day she spots a man her age, Nino (Adam Chanler-Berat), and after several missed encounters, she finally meets him and Amelie’s life changes forever.
To say any more about the plot would ruin this wonderfully unique theatrical experience, which is greatly due to the extremely talented cast, including Tony Sheldon, Heath Calvert, Alyse Alan Louis, the extraordinary Paul Whitty, Harriet D. Foy, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Randy Blair and David Andino. Several of them play multiple parts and they nail every single one of them.
The musical, directed by Pam McKinnon, is funny, touching and surprising, and will stay with you long after the curtain descends. I’d be very surprised if “Amelie” doesn’t wind up playing on Broadway and winning a ton of awards.
“Amelie” opened at the Ahmanson Theatre located at The Music Center, 601 West Temple Street, Los Angeles on Friday December 19, 2016 and runs through January 15th. For tickets, go to amelie-musical.tickets-center.com