Amélie

This musical flopped on Broadway. Is it any better on the indie stage?

By Andrew Andrews

Kacie Boice and Frank McGinnis star in Rhinebeck Theatre Society’s production of Amélie: The Musical by Craig Lucas, Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen. The show is directed by Ellen Honig at The CENTER for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck, with musical direction by Paul & Joanne Schubert. Original photos by Rachel Karashay.

In late twentieth-century Paris, Amélie is misdiagnosed by her physician-father as having an irregular heartbeat, causing her parents to pull the young girl from school to be taught at home by her mother.

Growing up without friends, the girl develops into a shy, socially-isolated young woman.

When she discovers a hidden box in the wall of her apartment, Amélie makes it her mission to find its owner and reunite him with the keepsakes inside. Pleased with his resulting happiness, she decides to dedicate her life to performing good deeds for others.

Along the way, Amélie recovers a scrapbook belonging to a young man to whom she is attracted. She wants to return the book to its owner, but her shyness leads to a cat-and-mouse game between the two.

Based on the hit romantic comedy film, the musical enjoyed a brief appearance on Broadway in 2017, with a revision resurfacing in the West End for a two-year run shortly thereafter.

Andrew Joffe and Harriet Luongo (not shown) join Zoey Morse, Kathy Bailey, Grace Burkhart, Ellen Honig (director), Jody Satriani, Dorothy Luongo, Melissa Matthews, Lynne Czajka, Suzette and Lumi Haas (street musicians), McGinnis, Boice, Jon Lee, Austin Carrothers, Michael Juzwak, Jabez Jackson and Mark Colvson to complete the cast, with musical directors JoAnne & Paul Schubert and additional staff at right.

Although I wasn’t impressed by the film’s musical adaptation when I saw it on Broadway a few years ago, I was nonetheless eager to catch Rhinebeck Theatre Society’s rendition for two reasons:

  1. Any show at The CENTER is always a great value; and
  2. We were thrilled this winter by the Society’s one-weekend production of Boy, entertained by their follow-up performance of Books, and laughed hysterically at their presentation of She Kills Monsters.

R.T.S.’s slogan is “for the community; by the community,” and their mission to “provide a creative, safe, productive environment and opportunities for all” means that this production includes a cast and crew with varying levels of talent and experience. In other words, expect much more of a “community theatre” presentation compared to most of the shows I’ve reviewed at The CENTER.

That’s not to say this production isn’t worthwhile; in fact, I think I enjoyed it every bit as much as the professional iteration a few years ago. While the production value is far lower, so is the cost of admission, and it’s hard to scoff at $25 for a full cast and live orchestra. Besides, like I said, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the Broadway incarnation in the first place.

If you only want to see a wonderful show, I’d recommend that you skip Amélie no matter where it’s being performed. But if all you need is a night of live theatre at a price that’s hard to beat, Rhinebeck Theatre Society’s presentation fits the bill.

3

Andrew Andrews attended Amélie at The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck on Friday, June 24, 2022 @ 8:00pm to write this review.