There are no particular harmonic or melodic surprises in the score, it’s all quite familiar within a populist vein, but that seems to be all that’s needed, and indeed all that’s required, to satisfy the target audience in a musical sense. For some tastes, the script may be a little too meta and self-consciously theatrical, occasionally winking outside the box of verisimilitude, but that too seems to delight the young and family audiences who would seem to make up the bulk of its patrons. More in-depth criticism than that seems a not-particularly-useful exercise, in light of the fact that if you know the books, as most of the audience seems to, you’re riding a wavelength that probably carried you to the theater in the first place. And it seems as if, in satisfying those expectations, the show is doing exactly what it was put together to do.
Under the direction of Steven Brackett, a mostly young cast, most of whom play multiple roles, attack the material with a breathless, though calculated, gusto on a set far more suggestive then explicit, which is really just a metal frame skeleton with entrances exits and catwalks. In the tradition of all TheatreWorks shows, this one is clearly, eventually, meant to travel (and not just alternate universes).
While those are questions one might well infuse with some suspense (because of course we know the answers) as in She Loves Me, where plot machinations truly do provide obstacles to be overcome, and characters have clear objectives, Amélie the musical and Amélie the character are softer than that. She has to conquer her existential shyness, but that’s not really a storyjourney, it’s an internal negotiation—as is, really, her trajectory through the whole piece—and thus the show manages to be perfectly pleasant but mostly free of consequential dramatic tension.