The Broadway musical of Amelie has reached the UK for its first tour on British soil and I caught it during its stint at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre from 22 to 27 July. It stays in the Midlands at Malvern Theatres from 29 July to 3 August before heading off to cities including Manchester and Glasgow.
With the acclaim associated with the film, it is no wonder that director Michael Fentiman described putting on Amelie the Musical as an exciting yet terrifying challenge "that you absolutely cannot turn down".
The show is very much based on the much-loved 2001 film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and keeps to the essence of the movie, while adding changes that make it more endearing on stage.
It has a gentle pace in the first act but enchants with a wonderfully melodic songbook, enhanced further by the cast of musician-actors. They play cellos, drums, violins and pianos live on stage while also acting out this crazy, heart-warming story.
Meanwhile, the music by Daniel Messé has a folk feel to it, full of sweeping chords and lilting voices that make you want to sway.
What works well is that this romantic comedy is as eccentric as the film. It is quirky and madcap with a cleverly designed set that is under the shadow of a huge, green Metropolitain underground sign, It involves magical scenes with puppets, flashing photobooths and Amelie floating up to her rooftop apartment by a kitsch lampshade.
The eccentricity at first seems bizarre but quickly feels charming and fun. There is a singing gnome that steals the show, along with an adorable puppet of a young Amelie, plus a fantasy scene where Elton John transforms into Elvis to honour the memory of Amelie instead of Princess Diana at a state funeral.
For those of you who haven't seen the film, the story unfolds about the life of shy but imaginative Parisian waitress Amelie Poulain as she attempts to improve the lives of those around her in a series of small acts of kindness. These escapades bring her into contact with delightful characters, including an attractive stranger that she feels an instant bond with but is too scared to follow up.
Playing the lead role that Audrey Tautou made famous in the movie is French Canadian performer Audrey Brisson. She is well-cast with a strong resemblance to the Amelie of the film and exuberating the same wit and charm that made the character so well-loved.
You may recognise Brisson from her background in theatre, including at renowned Kneehigh (also known for its quirky productions) and The National Theatre. More probably, she wlll seem familiar for her roles in TV and film, starring in director Clint Eastwood's film Hereafter, Madonna's movie W and television drama Outlander.
The talented cast members are musicians as well as actors
There's good character development through the enlightening songs; not just for Amelie but the friends she makes along the way to her own happiness.
Danny Mac plays the love interest, Nino, with a good French accent and even better voice. It's no surprise as before his days in Strictly Come Dancing and Hollyoaks, he was a regular on stage starring in Les Miserables in the West End, Wicked and was more recently in the UK tour of Sunset Boulevard that came to Birmingham Hippodrome in 2017.
But there's a strong cast all-round, committed to bringing to life peculiar yet likeable characters in unconventional ways.