PICK! AST Theater ~~“Amélie the Musical” a Charmer at Masquers Playhouse

By Barry Willis

Happenstance, a lost notebook, a garden gnome, and Zeno’s Paradox all converge as a quirky Parisian girl finds love in Amélie the Musical, at Masquers Playhouse in Pt. Richmond through December 10.

Written by Craig Lucas, with music by Daniel Messé, and lyrics by Messé and Nathan Tysen, the production helmed by Enrico Banson is based on the popular 2001 film. Structured more as an operetta than a traditional musical, Amélie features almost no spoken dialog.

Everything—32 songs in all—is beautifully sung by a surprisingly large cast for a small theater. Most of the performers also play instruments and handle multiple roles with aplomb. This show may be the only one where a violist (Hayley Kennen) plays and sings at the same time.

…This production sails joyously all the way to theatrical satisfaction.

Solona Husband shines in the lead role. Cute as she can be, Husband innocently seduces audience and cast mates alike with her confident acting and superb vocal abilities, nearly matched by Sleiman Alamadieh as guitar-playing Nino, the boy Amélie hopes to meet. A musical theater performer since childhood, Husband has enormous talent with plenty of potential for further development. Should she stick with it—that’s her stated goal—she’s destined for stardom. She’s that good.

Solona Husband at work.

Her performance alone recommends this production, one that exceeds expectations at every turn. The supporting cast is tremendous, especially Anand Joseph as the Blind Beggar, who entertains the pre-show audience with his accordion, and double bassist Douglass Mandell, who tackles two roles in addition to playing throughout the show. North Bay theater veteran Nelson Brown, also one of this show’s guitarists, and fresh from Marin Musical Theatre Company’s production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, does a fine job in dual roles, including a convincing turn as Amélie’s stiff, socially awkward father.

Set design by John Hull is delightful, including Le Café des Deux Moulins (Two Windmills Café), a photo booth, and a sex shop where Nino works. Aaron Tan’s music direction is unassailably great, as is Katherine Cooper’s choreography.

“Amélie the Musical”, cast at work, Masquers Playhouse in Pt. Richmond

How does Zeno’s Paradox fit in? The Greek philosopher’s most famous conundrum involves an examination of the concept of “half,” as in the question “If you cut the distance to your goal by half at each step, how many steps will it take to get there?” The answer: An infinite number, because each half-step leaves some distance remaining.

The theme recurs throughout the show—half measures, half asleep, halfway there, but its philosophical implications should have little bearing on Amélie’s audience. This production sails joyously all the way to theatrical satisfaction. Amélie the Musical is a totally charming and terrific diversion.


ASR NorCal Executive Editor Barry Willis is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and president of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. Contact: barry.m.willis@gmail.com


ProductionAmélie the Musical
Written byBook by Craig Lucas, Music by Daniel Messé
Directed & Choreographed byEnrico Banson
Producing CompanyMasquers Playhouse
Production DatesThrough December 10th, 2022
Production Address105 Park Place
Pt. Richmond, CA
Telephone(510) 232.4031
Reviewer ScoreMax in each category is 5/5
Aisle Seat Review Pick?Yes!