*** “Amélie” is a 2001 French film starring the enchanting Audrey Tautou in a hyper-fantastical tale of a sheltered young woman with a unique vision of the world. The film is nonstop eye candy with a tender heart. AMELIE, A New Musical, is based on the movie, and has the equally enchanting Phillipa Soo, scenery and costumes that are eye candy and a heart that begs to be loved. And that distinction weighs on the delicate nature of this sweet show.
Craig Lucas has boosted the romance in the story and lost some of its originality. The opening is a little too coy and in trying to recreate the whirlwind feel of the movie, it becomes only marginally coherent. Once the show hits its stride it regains intelligibility and loses its uniqueness. Amélie’s young self/ confidante feels hackneyed and the ancillary characters are underused. The music and lyrics are pleasant and could use more varied arrangements.
Phillipa Soo‘s Amélie gives Audrey Tautou a run for her money. Charismatic, bewitching and sly, she sings from her guarded, creative heart and makes this 1:40 minute musical worth seeing.
The new a cappella musical “in transit” starts with an announcement that all the sounds in the show will be made by humans. As if we wouldn’t be able to tell without their guidance. As if there might be a person left in a Broadway audience that doesn’t know what “a cappella” means. And that pretty much sets the tone of inanity that carries thru this blandly peppy, little musical. The performance I saw had 4 understudies in, but there was still plenty of talent on stage for any good musical.
You would expect an a cappella musical to be sonically interesting, but they have managed to make the songs unmemorable and too similar so it just becomes one long forced-cheery, thumping slog. The characters are two-dimensional and except for one scene of reconciliation, there is little depth or imagination. I kept getting the feeling that I was back in the ’90s watching an Off-Broadway Revue, not acceptable for the price of a Broadway ticket. But then, the audience seemed to enjoy themselves, so maybe there is a clientele for a small, uninspired musical.
John Mulaney, left, as George St. Geegland and Nick Kroll as Gil Faizon in “Oh, Hello.” (Luke Fontana)
Even before I went to see OH, HELLO on Broadway (or “bridd-whey” as George says), I knew these guys. I knew the mid-thirties comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney who portray two wacky codgers in their mid-seventies Gil Faizon (Kroll) and George St. Geegland (Mulaney). I knew these Upper West Side aging creative types with giant egos and tiny resumes. What I didn’t expect was the rapid fire hilarity flowing virtually non-stop throughout the show. The jokes are sweet and loopy (“That sandwich has too much tuna!” see above).
Gil and George are roommates, co-authors and stars of their show-within-the-show about two aging roommates named Gil and George who get evicted from their Upper Westside apartment. Many of the jokes are about New York City history, Theatrical stage conventions and Steely Dan, all areas in my perview, so I was in stitches the entire evening. However, I can imagine inviting a relative from out-of-town to see the show and having them come away not understanding any of the references. For those of us who find these characters familiar, you will love this show. It is the perfect whimsical tonic for these turbulent times.