Thanks to an ultra-imaginative creative team, the beloved 2001 French film Amélie has been transformed into a new Broadway musical of the same name. The show’s songwriters – composer and co-lyricist Daniel Messé and co-lyricist Nathan Tysen – and stars Phillipa Soo (most recently of Hamilton) and Adam Chanler-Berat – recently came by the Billboard office to perform a few songs from Amelie.
Tysen, who previously wrote for last year’s Tuck Everlasting, describes Amelie as “a young woman who lives wildly in her imagination and quietly in the outside world.” As Messé notes, it was a challenge at first to write songs for a character “who is so isolated and so internally focused.” The first song Soo performs, “Times Are Hard for Dreamers,” is one of the first Amélie sings in the show and one of the last Messé and Tysen wrote, spurred by the news that the show would go to Broadway.
Chanler-Berat, who plays Nino, Amélie’s love interest, next sings “Thin Air,” the very first song Messé wrote back in 2001, long before Amélie even became a show. “I was sort of in a dark place after 9/11 — I felt blocked up as a writer,” he says, explaining that after seeing the film, “I went home and wrote this song.”
Soo and Chanler-Berat close the performance with “Stay,” the penultimate song in the show, which Amélie and Nino sing on opposite sides of a door. “They don’t really know how to proceed from there,” Messé says. “They’re both struggling with this intimacy.” Tysen shares his personal connection to the song: it was one of the first he and Messé collaborated on. “We usually write music first,” Tysen says. “This is one of the first things he decided to share with me, and I remember loving the pattern of it…just having fun trying to count it out.”
Amélie is currently playing at the Walter Kerr Theatre through May 21st.