Amélie The Musical: The Original London Cast Recording
Book by Craig Lucas, music by Daniel Messé, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Daniel Messé
Craft Recordings and Concord Theatricals
Having started out as an art house film that subsequently captured the hearts of a global audience, Amélie received new life as a musical and now, in yet another incarnation, the soundtrack of the London production at The Other Palace is available.
Anyone who saw that show at the turn of the year is bound to have been enchanted by its delightful and whimsical production qualities, along with the stirring and starring performance of Audrey Brisson.
This was the kind of holistic musical in which every performer played one or more instrument, as well as acting their hearts out to tell the story of an unorthodox young French woman.
At the same time, it portrayed bohemian Parisian life at the end of the last century from the perspective of the common man (or more accurately woman).
The nature of the writing, in which the music became an integral part of the storytelling, lends itself to a soundtrack.
Unlike so many jukebox musicals in which a clumsy plot is ham-fistedly bolted on to a series of existing songs, anyone who has the time to listen to the very witty lyrics on this recording will get a very good impression of the story of Amélie Poulain and her family, friends and admirers. Helpfully, these are also provided in the liner notes.
The music itself is also a delight, even if there are no big blockbuster hits of the kind that West End audiences and producers thrive on, although “Tour de France” is certainly rousing, as are several other tunes.
Instead, almost every song pleases, typically in a Gallic style that pays homage to jazz, blues, folk and even occasionally rock, with the odd classical riff.
Underpinning all is the recurring musical motif of the movie, which will have nostalgic appeal to the legions of fans, as will the liberal use of the accordion.
The singing is generally more that of the balladeer than the Broadway diva, with Miss Brisson frequently in the lead with her fragile but emotive voice telling her character’s poignant tale.
Most of her fellows in the ensemble get their moment in the limelight, with Chris Jared as the love interest enjoying some charming duets with his leading lady, particularly “Stay”.
There can be little doubt that many of those who have been lucky enough to see this production on its route from The Watermill in Newbury across the UK to The Other Palace will take the opportunity to remind themselves of the pleasure that they derived, while anyone who missed out can at least get a feel of the experience by purchasing the CD or download of this lovely Original London Cast Recording.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher