STAGE REVIEW: Amelie - at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, July 29 to Saturday, August 3, 2019.

A WHIMSICAL but special love story that is quaint yet also manages to be completely absorbing.

It’s also as French as French can be set close by the Paris Metro. All that was missing was a beret wearing man-on-a-bike selling a string of onions!

But all the music is provided by a talented cast on stringed instruments, impromptu drums and, of course, the obligatory accordion. Just how French is that?

Based on the 2001 French film from Craig Lucas’ book, it is a fairy tale about a young waitress who is happy to a degree to see others in love as she carries out various acts of kindness which bring happiness to her companions and people she meets.

What she really wants though is ‘her own love’ but she is reluctantly shy, even when Mr Right, Nico, unexpectedly pops into her life.

Amelie, is played by French-Canadian actress, Audrey Brisson, and she is a perfect fit for this role. Attractive, wide-eyed, elfin-like and with a power-packed voice which commands attention every time she descends from her cylindrical roof-top nest.

Fine support performances too from Danny Mac, a regular face on tv who was also a Strictly Come Dancing finalist, as the handsome heart-stealer. Another exceptional voice here. Also Sophie Crawford’s Gina, Amelie’s grieving father played by Jez Unwin, and Caolan McCarthy’s truly inspirational Elton John impression with his alternative Princess Di tribute to Amelie.

The subdued lighting set is top quality too with seamless switches, such as from a station to a cafe, and clever inter-action with a variety of props.

Quite imaginative and it’s berets off to director Michael Fentiman.

Several of the musical’s songs from Daniel Messe, with lyrics by him and Nathan Tysen, are most pleasurable but with approaching 30 of them packed into the musical’s 2 1/2 hours it somewhat stretched credulity.

However, it’s still… ‘une soirée bien agréable au théâtre’ (an enjoyable night at the theatre).