Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nine"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Larry Stark


"Nine"

Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeston
Book by Arthur Kopit
Adapted from the Italian by Mario Fratti
(Based on Federico Felini's film "8 1/2"
Directed by Peter A. Carey
Choreography by Ilyse Robbins
Musical Direction by Jonathan Goldberg

Set Design by Janey Howland
Costumes by Jana Howland
Lighting Design by Yael Lubetzky
Stage Manager Laurie A. Light

Guido Contini..................Spiro Veloudos
Young Guido..........Matthew Soursourian
Luisa Contini..................Maryann Zschau
Carla Albanese...................Eileen Nugent
Claudia Nardi........Gretchen Goldsworthy
Guido's Mother............Cheryl McMahon
Liliane La Fleur............Kathy St. George
Lina Darling.......................Sarah deLima
Stephanie Necrophorous........Deb Martin
Mama Maddelina.......Vanessa J. Schukis
Our Lady of The Spa.........Merle Perkins
Sarraghina........................Elaina Vratios
Ensemble:
Faye Debonis, Kristen Palson, Wendy Heyman, Julie Lydon, Jeanne Belcastro, Shana Carr, Devon Candura, Anna Marie Grywalski, Rebecca Honig, Lisa Johnson-Oliviere, Kristie Krabe

Orchestra
Keyboards..Jonathan Goldberg
Reeds.....................Louis Toth
Reeds...................Ray Taranto
Violin..................Peter Hughes
Cello............Catherine Stephen
Horn................Harlan Feinstein
Percussion.........Wendy Baisley


Spiro Veloudos, Artistic Director of The Publick Theatre, passed his director's post on to Peter A. Carey for their current show, "Nine". Instead of controlling all the 23 different people on the outdoor stage, Veloudos is a mere actor, bring to life famous ("Not Since Charlie Chaplin...") Italian film-director Guido Contini --- an obvious alter-ego of Federico Fellini, whose classic film "8 1/2" provided the theme, the style, and many of the characters in Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston's neglected new musical. There's Contini, the memory of his nine-year-old self (Matthew Soursourian), and twenty-two women who swoon, scheme, posture and flirt for any sort of attention from the maestro. For Veloudos, this is doubtless delightful type-casting...

But though he spend a lot of time down-center, conducting the elaborate female chorus singing his own praises, Veloudos' Contini is not a solo paragon. Deb Martin plays a tall critic ("He's too pure to make movies or pictures; all he makes are "films': Boring!"), aptly named Stephanie Necrophorus. The star of his first three classic films (Claudia Nardi) refuses to play that same old role another time. His mistress (Eileen Nugent), newly divorced and demanding marriage, is heartbroken when he prefers to stay with his annoyed but forgiving wife (Maryann Zschau). And his producer demands he make not an art film but a musical! Kathy St. George as this French producer is so smitten by "The Folies Bergeres" she peels down to bustiere and black stockings to demonstrate what she has in mind.

The show takes place mostly in the mind of a distracted, overly-famous creator suddenly incapable of creation and plagued by thoughts of his sainted mother, his sternly understanding spouse, and the nuns and the neighborhood whore who battled for his attention and his soul when he was ... you guessed it ... "Nine"! As Sarraghina the sumptuous temptress, Elaina Vratios' song "Ti Voglio Bene/Be Italian!" is a tour-de-force defense of ripening flesh that gives those nuns not a leg to stand on.

"Nine" is a fresh, lively, scurrilously witty send-up of larger than life mega-personalities and those who fawn to do their bidding. It pokes fun at the Fellini habit of casting non-actors in a Tarantella sequence wherein he attempts to teach a quartet of German tourists the proper (and improper) uses of the tambourine. It digs a newer, deeper furrow through the backstage traditions of "Room Service" as a director without a shred of script yet busily searches for inspiration.

And Kathy St. George's "Folies Bergeres" turn alone would be worth the price of admission. Pray for No Rain, and go.

Love,
===Anon.


"Nine" (till 5 September)
THE PUBLICK THEATRE
Christian A. Herter Park, Soldiers Field Road, BOSTON
1(617)782-5425

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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