Vancouver Fringe 2019: Amélie

Tessa Trach and Georgia Acken in Amélie. The gnome doesn’t get a credit.
What kind of world is this? (Photo by DL Acken)

About an hour into this 90-minute show, I checked my watch and my companion leaned over to whisper, “Time has slowed.”

As in Amélie the movie, sweet nothing happens in Amélie the musical — well, nothing interesting. Amélie is a shy young Parisienne and, for a lot of the story, that’s her action: being shy — and whimsically kind. Then she finds herself attracted to an almost equally eccentric and shy young man named Nino, but Amélie avoids and teases Nino for so long that you want to slap her. There’s no narrative tension in this; the resolution is inevitable. SPOILER ALERT: they get together. Of course they get together!

To make things worse, this material seems very pleased with its own inertia, presenting itself as quirky and delicate when, to me, it’s just coy.

That said, Western Moon Theatre does a reasonably good job with it. Georgia Acken is simply and effectively present as the young Amélie. Tessa Trach is credibly innocent as the adult version, which is no mean feat. And Nevada Yates Roberts, delivers clearly delineated characterizations as a hypochondriac named Georgette and Sylvie, a sex-shop owner.

Vocally, I particularly enjoyed Enoch Choi’s Nino, Paul Just’s Elton John (yes, Elton John), and Sean Anthony’s turn as Amélie’s father, Raphaël.

Director Chris Lam and choreographer Linzi Voth make simple but effective use of the large playing area. And, under Peter Abando’s direction, the four-piece onstage orchestra is solid.

But Craig Lucas’s book? Ai yi yi. Never date an Amélie.

At the Firehall Arts Centre. Remaining performances on September 10 (8:15 p.m.), 11 (7:15 p.m.), 13 (8:45 p.m.), 14 (4:00 p.m.), and 15 (3:15 p.m.)


About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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