Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nine"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey


NINE Ages Well
at TURTLE LANE

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

There are a number of reasons to see the Turtle Lane Playhouse’s NINE—especially if you’re a Fellini fan. The protean director (La Dolce Vita, La Strada, 8 ˝, Amarcord) is the subject of the Tony Award winning musical (by Maury Yeston, Arthur Kopit and Mario Fratti) although the portrait isn’t all that flattering. Guido Contini is a womanizer-- the name has been changed, of course, to protect the adapters. Contini is a self-indulgent genius who can’t make up his mind. Should he pay more attention to his wife? Shack up with his mistress? Romance his leading lady? The gimmick of NINE is that he is surrounded, and tormented, all at once, by every woman in his life: His wife, his mistress, his mother, his future lovers, his producer, his fans, the maids, even the gold-hearted prostitute who caught his eye when he was eight and a half. Guido (James Fitzpatrick) is the only male in the cast except for the pint-sized dynamo who plays him at nine (and his playmates).

There’s another reason to visit Turtle Lane: Jacob Brandt as young Guido. He’s charming, he’s a natural and he sings gorgeously. Heather Hannon, too, is simply delicious as Guido’s high strung mistress.

What a pity that a cell phone rang…and rang…and rang over her most fragile moment in the play.The last three shows I’ve seen have been marred by cell phones. Can anything be done about it? Announcements before the show don’t seem to deter anyone. The best solution, so far, is Akiba Abaka’s which she announced before the start of the Black Power Plays. She explained that they are a small company in need of technical support so if a cell phone goes off during the play, they will consider it a gift to the theater. But seriously, folks, what’s to be done? That cell phone is even interrupting this review.

Jeff Gardiner’s neo-classic Roman steps (with sliding platform) are the perfect setting for the Busby Berkeley parade of women. (If only their shoes could all have rubber soles so they didn’t sound like storm troopers in the set changes.) Karen Fogerty’s Munich “Glockenspiel” choreography for the Germans at the spa will tickle your fancy and director Elaina Vrattos’ hilarious “business” for Shiba Nemat-Nasser’s tarantella (“Be Italian”) is one of the show’s highlights. Another is Linda Goetz’ fiery French diva from the Folies Bergeres.

After the cell phone, the mics seemed to malfunction so that the last three numbers had that “under water” thing going on. I don’t know if, in fact, the cell’s frequency caused it but that would seem to me reason enough to ask patrons to cease and desist.

"Nine" (23 April - 30 May)
TURTLE LANE PLAYHOUSE
283 Melrose Street, NEWTON
1(617) 244-0169

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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