Amélie: An Out of Town Tryout

Seen: December 23, 2016
Its a rare thing nowadays for a Broadway show to do an out-of-town tryout, let alone one that isn’t in DC, Boston, or Chicago. It happens, of course, but not often. Still, having the opportunity to see Amélie at the Ahmanson was such a magical experience.
To start, may I just say that Phillipa Soo is a legitimate gift from God. Her voice is so pure and angelic. She has such range in her acting and is one of the few actresses that can make me cry.  After having seen her in Hamilton last March, during which she had me in tears, I was so excited to see her in a new show and drastically different character. Also, Adam Chanler-Berat as Nino. I love him. I forgot how much I loved him. Next to Normal helped me get through high school and made me feel less alone when I was a freshman in a school where I didn’t know anyone. I remember writing the lyrics to different N2N songs in the back of my notebook to get out my teenage angst. Good times. Hearing him singing on the stage in front of me was one of those times where reality seemed altered and I was taken back to being 14. It was surreal. 
This show was just so whimsical and magical and wonderful. Obviously as an out of town tryout, changes will be made (I think that wig needs to be one of the first things to go) and I am just so curious as to how it will look when it opens. 
For those who are unfamiliar with the story (like I was) because they have not seen the movie/didn’t have the patience for subtitles (like me), Amélie follows a young woman as she starts her life in Paris and makes a connection with a stranger in the metro. She is inspired by the death of Princess Diana to make a difference and starts by returning a box that was hidden under the floorboards in her apartment to its rightful owner. While on this trip, she keeps crossing the path of a young man, Nino, who is asleep by the photo booth in the metro, eventually coming into possession of the book he leaves behind when scrambling to meet his train. She wants to return it but is afraid that actually meeting this young man will distort their ideas of each other. His book is filled with pictures that had been torn up and Amélie creates stories for each person in the pictures. After a series of clues left behind, Amélie and Nino finally meet decide to give the relationship a try. And they all lived happily ever after. 
I loved it. I loved it so much. The set was just as whimsical and wonderful as the actors who took residence on that stage. The costumes perfectly fit the characters and added to the fairytale-whimsy. I only wish I could remember any of the songs. I think this is only the second show I have seen where a cast recording was not available to listen to afterwards, the other being Shuffle Along. I’m just a little bummed that I cannot remember even a lyric of the show. 
Pippa, like I said before, is one of the only actresses who have ever made me cry. The difference between Eliza and Amélie is so huge. Eliza is such a strong woman and mother with so much love and has a serious side. Amélie, on the other hand, has such a child-like spirit, she is a tad awkward and nervous but always kind. These two characters, though so different, are so strong and wonderful and memorable. 
 
Adam, much like Pippa, portrayed Henry in Next to Normal, which I already stated means so much to me, and that is also such a character change. Henry is a stoner who works hard to provide some form of normalcy in Natalie’s life and understanding that she’s going through a tough time but refuses to give up on her. Literal boyfriend goals for a 15 year old Katie. Nino, however, acts as a sort-of narrator of the story, who goes to lengths to get to know the girl he has a connection with and does not give up… because she has his book. It was so refreshing seeing him portray such a different character because, thank God, I am no longer in that angsty teenage phase (as much, thank God). 
As an out-of-town tryout, it was great. I know there will be changes when it hits broadway in March. I hope they change the wig, its truly horrendous and makes her look 40 not 20 (when Samantha Barks played the role at Berkeley Rep, the hair was much better). I know the changes will be for the best, but part of me doesn’t want anything to change because I loved it so much. In the past 2 weeks, this show has grown on me so much that I am actually entering the TodayTix lottery to win tickets every day I don’t have to work. its only here through the end of next week and I so badly want to see it again. 
Go see this show, whether it’s here in LA or when it hits Broadway in the spring. See it and let yourself be transported to a whimsical Paris 1997. That is the one word to describe this experience: Whimsy. 
 
Also, as a side note, whilst waiting in line for the photo booth before the show I was looking at the poster in the lobby of all of the actors’ head shots and noticed that one looked particularly familiar and I couldn’t place it. When I looked in the program when I was finally in my seat, I saw that she was in She Loves Me on Broadway. And then I knew it! She is the one who took this picture of me and Zachary Levi at stage door as a part of Playbill’s two-show day with Alison Cimmet.
Advertisements

Pence at Hamilton

Last night at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City a performance of Hamilton took place. This should have been just like any other performance of this show, but it was not. As it has been WILDLY reported, Vice President-elect Mike Pence was in the audience. As he made his way to his seat, he was greeted with a cacophony, a mixed response of cheers, but also overwhelming boos.
 
To be expected, theaters are full of people with not necessarily conservative views. Theatres are typically full of more liberal minded people. So when the Vice President-elect walks in to a show that praises immigrants like Hamilton and Lafayette and shows that women like Angelica Schuyler are intellectually equal to men. This is a show that doesn’t put the founding fathers or any politicians on pedestals, but paints them in a realistic light. Yes, of course, hip hop, rap, r&b, and jazz weren’t things then and people didn’t break into song, but it is still so realistic. 
 
Apparently throughout the show, when the line “Immigrants, we get the job done” was said, the audience made sure to go EXTRA crazy, in order to solidify the message. The audience wanted to show Pence that this is something they all believed and make sure that he is hearing them as their representative. 
 
Also there were reports of a lot of noise when King George III says, “When your people say they hate you…” for obvious reasons. 
 
Yes, a lot of people at the Rodgers last night hate both Trump and Pence. They stand for a lot of things they do not believe in. I guarantee most of that audience cried the morning of November 9, 2016 when the future was solidified. A lot of them were scared and hurt, and they have every right to feel that way. 
 
These people and likeminded people across the globe felt like finally they were able to show their true feelings towards this man. Trying to make him hear them in the only way they could see fit in the moment. 

Now, the video, seen here


This is the transcript of what President-elect Donald Trump finds to be harassment. Written by Lin Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, and Jeffrey Seller and spoken by Brandon Victor Dixon:

“Thank you so much for joining us tonight. You know, we had a guest in the audience this evening. And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you’re walking out but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo here ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing to boo here, we’re all here sharing a story of love.
We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out. And I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and tweet and post because this message needs to be spread far and wide, OK?
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical, we really do. We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.
Again, we truly thank you for sharing this show. This wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men [and] women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”

Donald Trump then tweeted this:
What part of this is rude or harassment? Im serious! How could any of this be considered rude? If anything, this is pure courage. 
This show stars Javier Muñoz as Hamilton, an openly gay man who has shared with the world the health battles he has been through. He has fought cancer in the past year and will forever live with HIV. Yet, he remains positive and motivated to tell stories on stage. Last night, he performed the role of Hamilton for a man who, as governor of Indiana, funded conversion therapy facilities. That takes such courage to stand on that stage as a gay man to do that and defy the future Vice President with just your pure existence. 
 
The man who actually reads the statement, Brandon Victor Dixon is not lacking in the courage department either. He became the face of that statement. Dixon, who just last season starred in Shuffle Along, a show about the first all black Broadway show and the discrimination and racism that company faced, is now in a lead role in one of the biggest musicals Broadway has ever seen. That company shows what America looks like now, whether or not Pence would like to admit it. That show is, as it has been said several times before, America then told by America now. 

 

 
The statement itself is a plea. It pleads with Pence to remember those on stage as he takes office in the coming months. The statement is one of that just asks to be remembered and not be overlooked. There is nothing harassing in it or mean or negative. It is to tell this incoming Vice President that we all hope he is inspired by the acts that happened on that stage, showing just how important all cultures are to the fabric of this country. And it was told from once Vice President to another. 
 
Brandon Victor Dixon thanked VP-elect Pence for coming to the show and listening to what they had to say.
It is clear to see that there is no harassment going on here. These people tell stories for a living. The story they told last night just so happened to be a real story about real politicians and a real Vice President that got a little too upset when things wouldn’t go his way.
 
Since last night several people have weighed in on Twitter. 
Christopher Jackson, formerly George Washington in Hamilton
Gavin Newsom, 49th Lt. Gov. of California
 
Guy Branum, comedian
Ben Siemon, actor
 
Kevin Porter, co-host of Gilmore Guys podcast

This is clearly a very challenging and difficult time for many Americans, but this (Hamilton’s) is the kind of class that needs to be shown in the coming times. I have hope for the theatre community and for America because without hope, we have nothing.