Opposite the roaring mayhem and flashing lights of Piccadilly Circus, the Criterion Theatre sits with an exquisite yet humble musical waiting patiently for its audience.
The old fashioned theatre is currently home to the endearing and enchanted Amélie the musical; a production adapted from the 2001 romantic comedy of the same name.
After a rocky start losing her mother and discovering her father prefers a garden gnome to her, Amélie leaves home and gently drifts through life.
At first you too feel like you’re floating through life in her pocket, and then a plot emerges as she finds a time capsule in her room and decides to return it to the owner. Upon seeing all the good this does she continues to try and do more for the good of others.
When she stumbles across someone who makes her heart beat faster she begins to realise she must open up to move forward, something easier said than done for our humble heroine.
The plot is packed with chuckles as the show isn’t afraid to be a little daft. Expect Elton John performing at Amélie’s dream funeral and a giant personified fig attacking the local grumpy greengrocer.
Despite these extremely daft moments, the beautiful ideology of how we are all interlinked shines through wonderfully.
The overarching plot is mainly driven by the songs, both narrative and comedic.
Music is the biggest part of this production with almost everyone donning an instrument to perform the 36 songs.
I’ll admit you won’t leave singing any of the numbers but all are equally pleasant. My favourites including A Better Haircut and When The Booth Goes Bright have already made their way onto my ‘Show Tunes’ playlist.
The folky vibe and endless harmonies performed in a beautifully thick French accent makes for very easy listening.
Audrey Brisson is enchanting as the wide-eyed and vacant Amélie, the unexpected and unassuming heroine of the story.
Her charming mannerisms, engaging personality and soprano voice are wonderful and strongly supported by an excellent company.
The ingenious set design features two levels with a circular room looking out onto the Paris skyline and a levitating lampshade to bring tiny Amélie up to her apartment.
The lower level transforms back and forth between a cosy French bistro to a cold industrial train station. Team this with a clever multipurpose photobooth/front doors/confession booth and pianos with grocery shops, bar counters and occasionally luminous dildos spilling out the back!
This wholesome show promotes helping others as well as telling a tender love story that you can’t resist becoming invested in.
For some much needed heartwarming escapism I can’t recommend this show enough.
Amélie the Musical is playing at the Criterion Theatre until 25 September. For further information about the show’s future life, please visit https://ameliethemusical.com/