April 7, 2017
A little eccentric, a little flighty, “Amelie” is a young girl who grows into a woman of imagination. From her early days, Amelie sees butterflies and fanciful visions that feed her soul and enlarged her heart. Deeply sensitive, she leaves her protected home life and heads to Paris to find her true way. The prodigiously talented Phillipa Soo stars in the production written by Craig Lucas base on the very popular film by Jean – Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant.
Young Amelie (Savvy Crawford) navigates the high-pitched score by Daniel Messe with relative ease, foreshadowing the clear and dominant soprano voice she grows into as a mature Amelie. Simple and well meaning, the plot spins around Amelie’s do-gooder-tendencies. She looks for folks to help in a basic Good Samaritan syndrome.
A waitress in a Parisian café, Amelie’s co-workers are caught in a pattern of personality repetition—until, yes, Amelie guides them towards love and satisfaction. Almost all the cast members assume several roles depicting unconventional characters in very specific ways. In particular, Allison Cimmet’s comic interpretations heighten an intermittently soggy production.
After discovering a series of ripped photographs, Amelie spies the responsible party—a young man who runs the photo booth in an industrious section of town. Whereas the Grinch’s heart shrinks whenever someone expresses glee, Amelie’s heart expands exponentially when she does a good deed, or in this case, falls in love. But despite Amelie’s inherent outgoing ebullience, she can’t confront this man. Instead, she plays games delivering notes about where to meet, and then disappearing before any face-to-face encounters.
Her love interest, Adam Chanler-Berat owns an overblown portion of charisma. Despite the tame material, Berat beams urgency, captivating the audience within seconds of his introduction. Of course, Soo is no wallflower, and when she appeared in the first rendition of “Natasha and Pierre and the Comet of 1812” it was evident she was a star in the making. But as directed by Pam McKinnon, Soo’s character doesn’t allow for much emotional variation.
Regardless, the pit orchestra guided by Kimberly Grigsby spurs the musical score along. For good reason, many families were in attendance and the younger members giggled and sighed at the sweet and forgettable musical “Amelie.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis