NINE’s lead character -Guido states that he is “40 physically, but mentally – age 10”; this writer has the same problem …but Doubled! The locale is 1960’s Venice and the plot deals with a roué film producer who brings his wife and his mistresses to a spa while planning a new movie that will rejuvenate his lagging career. Bring stowed luggage and some unbreakable overhead bin stuff; but leave the excess baggage (read –chicks & problems) behind!
The story, based on Fellini’s famous “8 ½” deals with the male version of menopause: – ‘Middle age Crazy’. My doctor called it “playing on the back nine”. We come face-to-face with certain realities like not accomplishing all the goals we set ourselves. Like still having a full ‘bucket list’; like having one last chance to own & drive a motorcycle! Director/sound operator/set designer Jason Dick has chosen a textbook team of thespians who are also flawless singers and talented dancers to be perfect foils for Markus Carreiro’s Guido. The man is constantly on stage and performs in just about every scene and aria. The demands on his voice and facial expressions is Herculean. The only (and slight) disconcertion is an overuse of his hands in the prayer mode and that could be blamed on Dick’s directing. Otherwise, Carreiro gives a sympathetic yet accurate portrayal of ‘turning forty’. Been there…done that.
Among the myriad ladies who comprise his menagerie, there are a few standouts. Rebekah Houpt’s Carla is the most seductive temptress since Damn Yankee’s ‘Lola’ turned on the steam heat. Her dancing and posturing are about as X-rated as it legally gets. If we weren’t seated at the rear, I might have been drawn to stick a 5-spot [$] into her G-string. Guido’s long-suffering wife is portrayed by Jenn Magalas and her interpretation rings solid. She is every-woman who manages to keep herself anchored while in a marital emotional abyss. Our hero’s mother is Pamela Blackwood-Marques and she demonstrates the intestinal fortitude the part demands. Stacy Milford’s important veteran-actress in Guido’s previous movies; utilizes both her operatic-level voice and expressive face to almost scene-steal. Among the support characters, Sara Bayzat; Shari Vandermolen and the very young Guido depicted by Benjamin Kersey all give full measure. There are no cast weaknesses.
The set is simplistic; comprised of door arches; centre-stage steps and large hanging drapes…so no distraction from lyrics or dialogue. Costumes (by Dawson-Levy & Blackwood-Marques) are classic and marvellously attractive while still managing to epitomize the individual characters who wear them. The six piece orchestra under Steve McRae rarely overpowers and was technically faultless. The big choral numbers such as “Follies Bérgere” and ‘Grande Canale’ are synchronized and visually appealing. “NINE” has something for everyone and for this scribe, “Ti vol yo bene”…we loved it and it’s at the Citadel at 28 Rebecca St until May 3rd.