If you like your theatrical menu du jour to include singing goldfish, killer figs, a nun in a sex shop and possibly the best Elton John impression of all time then Amelie The Musical will be your tasse de thé.
Based on the 2001 film starring Audrey Tautou as the waitress who devotes herself to small acts of kindness in 1990s Paris, this musical by Daniel Messe, Nathan Tysen and Craig Lucas has arrived in the West End via Broadway, a UK tour and a pre-pandemic run at London’s The Other Palace.
Michael Fentiman’s feel-good production surrounds Audrey Brisson’s immensely likable Amelie with a talented cast of wandering actor-musicians who play multiple characters while simultaneously providing the score.
While the stage does at times seem slightly overcrowded, one can’t help watch in admiration as the cast members navigate the set while vigorously playing a violin or coaxing mournful notes from a cello hooked around their necks.
Stand out songs include The Girl with the Glass, sung by Amelie and her Renoir-loving artist neighbour Dufayel (Johnson Willis), and Caolan McCarthy’s pitch perfect take on Elton John as Amelie fantasises herself into Princess Diana’s funeral.
Madeleine Girling’s impressive set design conjures up the beauty of Montmartre, as well as the Metro and Notre Dame, with the ingenious use of two upright pianos and a revolving photo booth.
After months of Covid misery for the theatre industry, this show feels like a joyful – if somewhat surreal – shot in the arm.
Amelie The Musical is at the Criterion Theatre, booking to 25 September.