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.