“Little boat, big ocean
I’m the girl with the copper spyglass
Who prays that today she will spot her shore
All at once a lighthouse
All at once through the copper spyglass
A light telling me to lean in on the oar
I start to row” Amelie
If you follow Broadway, or are on the Hamilton bandwagon, heck if you watched the Super Bowl this year, then you have heard of Philipa Soo. She is one of the original Schuyler sisters and played A-Ham’s beautiful, smart, put-upon wife, the one and only Eliza Hamilton. (Yesss She is THAT Eliza) While Hamilton has skyrocketed her to fame, it is Phillipa Soo’s new show which she headlines that showcases the true grit of her talent, and cements her as a Broadway Queen.
Yup. I said it. Move aside Idina, Laura, Audra, Lea, Kelli, and so many more Broadway greats, because Phillipa Soo has rightly won that title.
It is also what will have fans flocking to see this musical.
Amélie is based on the 2001 five time Oscar nominated French movie of the same name about a girl who “Dreams big inside her own head.” While using the same storyline from the movie, make no mistake this musical is all its own, changing many of the side stories to create a flowing plot fit for Broadway.
Sheltered from life as a child because of hypochondriac parents, Amélie survives on fanciful dreams until she moves out working as a waitress at a cafe in Montmartre. Her life, while filled with good people, is quiet and mundane, afraid to truly connect with those around her, until on the night of Princess Diana’s death she finds a box of childhood mementos. It sets her on a path to not just return it to the owner, but become an anonymous do-gooder bringing smiles to everyone around her.
It isn’t always an easy journey and along the way she not only finds love, but is also confronted with the fears of the unknown, having been sheltered all her life. Does she meet the mysterious man, Nino, whom she saw at the train station and it was instant attraction for both? Or does she continue to follow her banal existence never taking chances, or experiencing love.
Amélie: Old and Young
Split between young and old, the always idealistic head in the clouds Amélie, keeps audience members laughing and riveted with her refreshing innocence and child-like exuberance. Her imaginative musings while at times seem quite nonsensical, touch at the heart strings and remind us never to lose those idealistic dreams we all have as children. Phillipa Soo’s voice itself, will pierce the soul and send chills down the spine hitting notes that doesn’t seem human possible.
Savvy Crawford who not only originates the role of a young Amélie but makes her Broadway debut, is not only refreshing, but portrays the quirky qualities of her character with the experience of a seasoned Broadway star. With a voice well beyond her years, her duet, “Halfway” with Soo showcases how musically matched she is when singing with her adult contemporaries. She is a star in the making.
While it might seem to carry heavy themes like not letting fear hinder you, this is a show that is actually quite lighthearted. At times silly and truly out there, channeling Amélie’s imagination, the supporting cast does their job well grabbing laughs from the audience. While there are numerous moments, one in particular is when “Elton John” shows up in al his sequined “Candle In the Wind” glory. The number will have you laughing so hard tears will be streaming down your face. I know I was very grateful for waterproof mascara! This is a show that has you leaving the theatre with a smile on your face and a lightness in your step.
Amélie is currently playing on Broadway having opened April 3 at the Walter Kerr Theatre. The cast recording is available for pre-order and will be released May Nineteenth.