Adam Chanler-Berat and Phillipa Soo in “Amélie, A New Musical” at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Adam Chanler-Berat and Phillipa Soo in “Amélie, A New Musical” at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

With its whimsical charm and ensemble of quirky characters, "Amelie, A New Musical," is a delightful winter escape. An adaptation of the 2001 film, the musical captures the kooky magic of the Jean-Pierre Jeunet-directed romantic comedy.

The musical tells the story of a young Parisian woman named Amelie who was sheltered her entire life. Forced into homeschooling as a child because her father mistakenly believed she had a heart condition, her mother took over her studies. Good-intentioned but comically flawed, Amelie's parents never provided her with the affection she craved, triggering her inability to have healthy relationships as an adult.

The crux of the story begins when Amelie finds an old box in the floorboards of her apartment. She sets about returning it to its owner, and it is during this mission that she bumps into Nino, a young man who collects photos of random strangers in a scrapbook. Despite her growing romantic interest, Amelie has no idea how to pursue him, so naturally, when he forgets his scrapbook, she takes it and tries to arrange a meeting by setting up clues for him to find.

Visually, the set is as charming as the plot and cast, with enchanting lighting and smooth, seamless transitions between settings.

Ten-year-old Savvy Crawford played a young Amelie. Effortlessly cute and vibrant, Crawford was the heart and soul of the production, holding her own amongst an adult cast. Phillipa Soo, who took over as the adult version of Amelie, was a brilliant casting choice, bringing an Audrey Hepburn-like flair to the role. Bright-eyed with a ready smile, Soo captured the innocent, child-like quality Amelie never lost, which was also evident by Crawford's periodic appearances throughout the show, reminding the audience that the adult woman before them never quite grew up.

"Amelie, A New Musical" is an endearing comedy for children and adults.

"Amelie" runs through January 15th at the Ahmanson Theatre (135 N. Grand Ave.). Tickets start at $25. For more information, visit www.centertheatregroup.org.

To contact contributor Agnessa Kasumyan, write her at agnessakas@gmail.com