Theatre review - Amélie the Musical, Manchester Opera House

Stay: Danny Mac (Nino) and Audrey Brisson (Amelie)
Photo: Pamela Raith

Stay: Danny Mac (Nino) and Audrey Brisson (Amelie) Photo: Pamela Raith - Credit: Archant

If you loved the film, you’ll love the musical: a whimsical, lyrical dance through the daydream mind of sweet Amélie.

Danny Mac plays Nino, in Amelie the Musical
Photo: Pamela Raith

Danny Mac plays Nino, in Amelie the Musical Photo: Pamela Raith - Credit: Archant

I've never seen the film, so had no real idea of what to expect from Amélie the Musical. The storyline is a gentle one, with romance running a thread throughout, though with enough sharp comedy to elevate it from mush.

To summarise, Amélie is a quirky comedy about a young woman who likes to 'fix' the lives of the people around her, while living herself in a daydream world of drama she really doesn't want in her real life. Having grown up the isolated daughter of 'a neurotic and an iceberg', who liked the idea of a daughter far more than the reality, it's no surprise that she prefers to keep people - and any potential emotional entanglements - at arm's length. She doesn't feel the same way about her friends' lives however, especially after one action - the return of a small tin box to the boy, now man, who hid it away 40 years before results in an unexpected and delightful consequence. From that moment, she decides to be ""Amélie Poulain. Godmother of outcasts. Madonna of the unloved." And use her powers to bring people together. Before she can find true happiness for herself however, she has to be brave and open herself to romance. Step in Nino, here played by Danny Mac, in a small but powerful role.

The first thing I must say is that the music is simply a joy. From the first scene, where the actors enter the stage bearing the instruments with which all the music will be made, the ebb and flow of the score is just beautiful. There is a common style threading through all the songs - and there are many, a constant flow in fact - but there are a few that are really stand-out numbers. Nino's song, Thin Air, is just beautiful and their duet, Stay, quite wonderful.

There's also a lovely comedic flow - lots of quick one-liners, even single words, that when they hit the audience create a ripple of surprised appreciation. It's in these moments that the lightness of touch by the writers and lyricists becomes most apparent - and it's very welcome.

Audrey Brisson as Amélie
Photo: Pamela Raith

Audrey Brisson as Amélie Photo: Pamela Raith - Credit: Archant

Amélie, played by Audrey Brisson, is very well cast. Petite and with an inherent energy, she looks just as she should and portrays sweet, shy, quirky and irreverent Amélie with ease. The role of Nino is taken by Danny Mac, who, though this is not a large role, impresses with his voice and his presence. He is perhaps a little bit drippy, a tad more artistic quirk and less sex-shop-loser would go a long way, I think!

As I said, I don't know the film, which made following the musical a little tricky on occasion. I still don't know quite what she did with the blind fiddler, and there were times when I lost the plot completely. It's also perhaps just about three songs too long.

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It's not a leap-to-your-feet and cheer at the end kind of show, but it is truly lovely and delivers a fine night out for lovers of story, song and romance.

Amelie plays until Saturday August 10. Tickets from