The late and very great Michel Legrand wrote a colossal amount of music, mostly for films, but 2002’s Amour was one of his rare forays into musicals.
Jeremy Sams helped Legrand rework and translate what was originally Le Passe-Muraille, based on a short story by Marcel Aymé about a man who develops the ability to walk through walls and vows to use his power to help people. It was renamed Amour, received four Tony nominations for its Broadway run, but closed after a few weeks and awful reviews.
Maybe a lot has changed since then, but those reviews are hard to square with this show. Its silliness and charm combined with Legrand’s score and Sams’ lyrics are irresistible (Sams rhymes Sinatra with Montmartre – what’s not to love).
It’s really cleverly directed by Hannah Chissick. She makes the most of a few chairs and briefcases to find exactly the right scale and shape for this lovely musical.
We’re in a comically romanticised evocation of Paris, all bicycles and chain-smoking. Amour shifts between two modes. One feels like one of those Two Ronnies musical finales full of deft, daft wordplay and a bit of bawdy humour. The other is full on Legrand romance: swirling, shifting chord progressions and intensely lyrical love songs.
Gary Tushaw plays Dusoleil, the ordinary guy who becomes extraordinary. He flirts with a lot of notes that he doesn’t quite land, but he’s a pleasant and likeable focal point. Wonderful performances come from the rest of the cast, especially a brilliant comic turn from Claire Machin and a fantastic last-minute stand in by understudy Jack Reitman. C’est magnifique.