'Les Miserables' Star Set for 'Amelie' Stage Musical

Samantha Barks H 2015


Samantha Barks H 2015

Samantha Barks, known for playing Eponine in Tom Hooper's film adaptation of 'Les Miserables,' will take on the title role.

The singing, dancing Amelie has been found.

Samantha Barks will star in the musical adaptation of Amelie, the beloved 2001 French film that became a major worldwide box office hit, Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced Friday. Barks — a British stage actress with credits including City of Angels, Cabaret and Oliver! in London’s West End, and Chicago at The Hollywood Bowl — is mostly recognized for playing Eponine in Tom Hooper's film adaptation of Les Miserables.

The show's tryout engagement at Berkeley Repertory Theatre — which has shepherded a number of shows to Broadway, including Green Day's American Idiot — will be directed by Tony winner Pam MacKinnon (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), written by Craig Lucas (An American in Paris) and feature music by Dan Messe, the keyboardist and composer of Brooklyn neo-folk indie ensemble Hem. Lyrics are by Messe and Nathan Tysen.

The new musical begins previews on Aug. 28 before its Sept. 11 opening. It runs through Oct. 4. Broadway plans have not yet been confirmed, though a move to a major New York stage would be the logical next step after the show's Berkeley premiere.

Directed on the screen by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou as the title character, the original film follows an innocent young waitress in a whimsical version of modern-day Paris. After leading a sheltered childhood, she emerges into adult life with a profound urge to do good deeds for the people she encounters, while quietly struggling to overcome her own emotional isolation.

Nominated for five Oscars, the film was a massive foreign-language hit for Miramax, grossing $33.2 million in the U.S. Its worldwide box office totaled $173.9 million.

Jeunet slammed the musical adaptation in 2013, saying he only agreed to the deal to donate proceeds to charity. "I absolutely hate musicals and I hate Broadway. I believe that it is the epitome of mediocrity," he said at the time. "I silenced my little problems of conscience, but this musical deeply disgusts me. ... I can tell you I will not see it, I don’t want to hear it, I will not hear it."

Twitter: @cashleelee