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BWW Review: AMELIE at Mercury Theatre

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Amélie, which is now on stage at Mercury Theatre, is a musical is based on the romantic comedy film of the same name.

BWW Review: AMELIE at Mercury Theatre

Amélie, which is now on stage at Mercury Theatre, is a musical is based on the romantic comedy film of the same name.

The stage version opened on Broadway in 2015 to underwhelming reviews, resulting in a brief two-month run. In a less than stellar year of openings, it did not garner a single Tony nomination.

Though it attempts whimsy, it often misses its mark due to a somewhat convoluted plot design and lack of emotional highs and lows. Craig Lucas, who conceived the book simply, was not capable of duplicating the charm of the five-time Oscar nominated film.

The tale follows the journey of the inquisitive Amelie, a child who has survived a tragic and isolated childhood, who turns the streets of Montmartre into a world of her own imagination. She discovers that dreaming and fantasizing is easier than participating in her own story.

We travel though almost thirty scenes with her, as she meets the likes of Suzanne, a trapeze artist-turned-cafe owner; Georgette, a hypochondriac tobacconist; Julian Dufayel, and an artist with brittle bone disease.

Most importantly, from the storyline standpoint, "Amélie finds love in the form of Nino, a mysterious young man, and who is possessed by creating a photo album. Living in her imaginary world of make-believe and whimsy has been safe, but Amélie knows it is time to step out of her dreams and find joy for herself."

The unremarkable score with music by Daniel Messe and lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Daniel Messe, fails to produce a single song that is truly memorable.

The Mercury production, under the direction of Pierre-Jacque Brault, succeeds where the book and music fail.

The set design by David McQuillen Robertson sets the right visual images to allow Brault to set stage pictures. One may wonder, however, why there was a double set of doors stage left, slowing down entrances and leading to visual confusion.

Patrick Ciamacco's projections are well-conceived.

Michael Jarret's light design helped create the right warm moods. Considering the natural echoes in the huge Notre Dame College auditorium, Eric Simma's sound design makes some, if not all the spoken and sung words, understandable.

With little drama and no comedy sequences the director and cast is forced to create attention. They basically succeed.

The musical director, Matthew Croft, and his excellent orchestra effectively underscore, rather than drowning out the performers, a quality that often becomes a problem in musical theatre production. (Hurrah!)

The cast creates consistent characterizations and the voices are uniformly excellent.

Gracie Keener is charming as Amelie. Kelvette Beacham delights as Suzanne. Neely Gevaart does a nice turn as Gina. Benson Anderson (Nino), Trey Gilpin (Hipolito) and Nick Grimsic (Lucien) nicely develop their roles.

Brault has created some some magical moments including "Tour de France" "Blue Arrow Suite" and "A Better Haircut."

CAPSULE JUDGMENT: AMELIE is the type of musical that some will find charming, others, like myself, will find it a lesser musical. The show gets a very creditable production at Mercury Theatre.

Next up at Mercury is BALLS OVER BROADWAY-part theatre, part bingo hall, part camp, all fun! (August 29).

For tickets to Mercury performances call 216-771-5862.


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