I saw *Amélie* on Broadway on 4/13/17, a new musical based on the adorable French film from 2001. I'm a fan of the movie, I was curious to see Phillipa Soo in this part, and I got tickets for only $45. So why the hell not.
I saw Soo in *Hamilton,* she created the role of Eliza, Hamilton's wife. I wasn't overly impressed by her in that show - - on the night we went her performance was a little too inward. But other people were wowed by her, and she's great on the recording, so I wanted to give her another chance. So glad I did, because she was wonderful in this show. She sang beautifully, the songwriters used her whole range and wrote her wonderfully expressive songs. And her performance was very impressive. In a strange way, it made me think of Guido Contini in *Nine*: in both cases, the role is the undisputed central role in the show, the reason for everything that happens, and the performer has to have the personal magnetism to pull that off. I would say that Guido has an advantage over Amélie because he's larger than life, and if you're like that, then I imagine it's not hard to do. Amélie is rather tentative and low affect in much of the show, and it takes a confident and sincere performer to draw the audience in. She nailed it.
Her leading man, Adam Chanler-Berat, was another story. I've heard many great singers and a few bad singers over the years, but I don't think I'd ever heard such an ANNOYING singer. Oh dear Lord, he was tap-dancing on my last gay nerve. He did that Star Search / American Idol catch-in-the-voice thing constantly, he never missed an opportunity to do that. And he defies physics: somehow his voice is both piercing and muffled. Like a samurai sword wrapped in cotton balls. I'm making a mental note of his name so I can avoid him in the future.
Tony Sheldon had the most satisfying performance in the rather large supporting cast, he was sweet and heartfelt. He had the Jack Buchanan role in Encores' *The Bang Wagon* a few years ago and played both Caesar and his wife Calpurnia in the Charles Busch *Cleopatra.* He's a real pro.
The show was generally good - - book by Craig Lucas, music by Daniel Messé, lyrics by Messé and Nathan Tysen. They did a good job making the leap from the screen to the stage, and they were smart in their conception of how to make it into a musical. The music sounded like Suzanne Vega a lot of the time. This isn't a bad thing, but I'm not sure it's the RIGHT thing. And I'm not sure any musical needs a cameo by Elton John, but this one would be better off without it. That was an idea that should have been weeded out in previews. Early in the process.
Another thing that should have been fixed in previews: the staging is too madcap. Director Pam MacKinnon is known for directing Albee and the like, and I'm not convinced that she knows what she's doing in a musical. I don't think she really trusts the material. There are moments of magic in the show, and she delivered those. The moment of romantic resolution at the end of the show was beautifully handled, genuinely touching. But too often she gilded the lily.