Despite it’s title, Amour the musical is not a sickly-sweet French romantic musical. Nor does it have anything to do with a solitary lamppost in an abandoned street as the marketing materials may lead you to believe. It’s mostly a charming and whimsical story with a big heart. It’s not a total surprise that the limited run of this little-known story with a relatively unknown cast has been cut six weeks short. But based on the quality of the production and performances, it should have had a bit more of a fighting chance at achieving a healthy run. That’s the world of commercial musical theatre for you.
Set in 1950s Paris, our protagonist is Dusoleil (Gary Tushaw), an unremarkable office clerk, who becomes an unlikely town hero when he finds himself with the mysterious superpower to walk through walls. Though it may not be the first choice of superpowers for most, we soon realise that there’s much one can do when closed doors and high walls are no obstacle.
Dusoleil, the cowardly civil servant with only his cat for company, transforms to the much-adored street vigilante who steals from the rich and gives to the poor in a Robin Hood fashion. Suddenly he stands a chance at gaining the attention of Isabelle (Anna O’Bryne), the lady trapped in a loveless marriage that he’s long admired from a distance.
The show starts off strong and packs comedic punches throughout. There are well-developed characters and well-crafted scenes, but its plot is ultimately quite light in substance. The show unfortunately runs into pacing issues in the second act and leaves you wanting for more by the end.
There is however much to love about the original score by the late noted film composer Michel Legrand, and the witty lyrics by Didier Van Cauwelaert translated by Jeremy Sams. The lyrics are filled with satisfying rhyming couplets and takes the idea of playing with words to fantastic heights, particularly in the number ‘The New Boss Arrives’.
Director Hannah Chissick and Choreographer Matt Cole employ physical theatre to great effect using chairs and other props to add an engaging dimension to the story-telling. The stylish costumes have a cinematic quality inspired by the world of film noir.
Of the excellent performances in the cast, the standout was Jack Reitman, the understudy who played the unhinged alcoholic Doctor. Although his appearance was all too short, his portrayal was hilariously manic in his scene stealing number “The Doctor”.
This production of Amour has appeared to have suffered a fate not too dissimilar from the original Broadway staging which lasted a mere two weeks. However, there are enough promising elements to the musical that it may find its audience one day.
Amour is playing at the Charing Cross Theatre and is running until June 8 2019 at the time of writing.