Hammer Ent’s “NINE” is a 9+ production 8

Review by Danny GaisinreviewerDGcolor

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!

Guido 'conducting' his menagerie

Guido ‘conducting’ his menagerie

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.




  1. While any reviews, good or bad are necessary in the world of the arts, I would just like to make you aware that quite a few people find your review of Ms. Houpt’s performance to be crass and inappropriate. She is an EXTREMELY talented young woman which has now been overshadowed because you have chosen to comment on her wardrobe (which by the way was NOT a g-string) rather than on the EXCEPTIONAL skill and talent it takes to be able to pull off a number like that without even skipping a beat or breath. That girl and her family deserve an apology.

  2. Dear Mr. Gasin. My name is Ashley McAskill and I am a theatre alumni of the Hamilton theatre scene. I moved away from the city in 2011 to pursue my graduate studies in Montreal, Quebec. I have always found a pleasure in reading reviews of my Hamilton colleague’s shows. For this reason, I am thankful for organizations like OAR that have supported the Hamilton arts, something my own sister is very active in. However, upon reading your review, there was a section in which made me feel extremely uncomfortable. In one section of your review you state about one female actresses performance, “If we weren’t seated at the rear, I might have been drawn to stick a 5-spot [$] into her G-string.” I do not know you, nor do I think it was your intention to offend. However, I do not find this very ethical to include. Perhaps the performance was of a sexual nature, but your comments resituate this performance from being theatrical to one in which women are paid to dance. Your words set up future female performers working within the underpaid (or not even paid) community arts to feel uncomfortable with performing more sensual scenes or dressing in less revealing clothes. I would ask you to take this down however, it has been published and become a part of a dialogue and memory. I truly do not think it was your intention to create such discomfort. But I kindly ask the OAR and other theatre review outlets to review their features prior to publication and be more sensitive to the ethics of such statements. As someone that works in performance and ethics, I find your statement unethical and promotes a problematic regime of sexism. I kindly ask you and the OAR to be more aware of the words you use and the implications to what kind of theatre culture you want to promote and support. My hope it is one that is both critical but also respectful. Thank you very much.

  3. Ms. Houpt’s performance in Nine was amazing, from her dancing to her singing to her acting. While it would have been great to include favourable comments on all of her talents, rather than focus only on her ability to portray a sex object, I have to say that I did not interpret Mr. Gaisin’s comments as negative, but as a compliment to this young actor’s wonderful ability to play a role that I’m sure cannot be easy to portray.

    The role, choreography, and costumes for this character were obviously designed with sex appeal in mind. And as Carla, Ms. Houpt exudes wonderful sex appeal. While the character is not a stripper, and does not wear a G-string, she is the lead character’s mistress, and does perform an extremely provocative dance – which does involve stripping – and very specific descriptions of exactly what she wants the main character to do to her, and where. I wonder if we couldn’t also view the performance – and favourable review – of such a sexually liberated character as empowering, rather than automatically assuming that comparisons to a stripper are necessarily negative?? Carla as a character is an extremely sexual being, and one would hope that in 2014, we could embrace this in a woman, rather than strip-shaming and employing outdated, patriarchal sentiments to “protect” this amazing actor from comments that are a testament to her abundant talent and are certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

    Could Mr. Gaisin have chosen a more sensitive, conservative way of wording his comments? Absolutely. Could he have also focused on Ms. Houpt’s ability to sing, dance and create a convincing character, instead of simply her sex appeal? Without a doubt. But should we, as a community, take offense at a reviewer’s honest response to a character and performance that was designed IN EVERY WAY to be as sexually appealing as possible for an audience, and which succeeded beyond a shadow of a doubt?? I would have to say no.

  4. Really Gaisins? You find it alright to write such trash?
    I will remind you that I sang at your daughter Tina’s wedding.
    I will remind you that my children and your grandchildren were raised as friends.
    I will remind you that my daughter, Rebekah Houpt, is a talented actress, singer and performer that deserves a more tasteful review.
    Polish your act please!! Your words are offensive and an apology is in order.

  5. Your comment about Rebekah Houpt was disgusting. I don’t think it’s acceptable to talk about any girl in that respect. While I understand you were trying to express how well she played the part, your inappropriate comments were offensive to women in general.It bothers me that you would say that about someone whom your granddaughters grew up with and someone who is the same age as us. How would you feel if someone were to write that about any of us? I believe an apology is in order, to Rebekah, her family and all of your female readers.

  6. Rebekah is a very talented performer and a pleasure to work with. She is a humble as they come and too sweet for words. I’m the costume designer of this show and let me tell you what the costume plot called for….a full nude unitard dancing seductively in white bed sheets. Carla is in her hotel room waiting for Guido and is suppose to be “naked” hence the lyrics “who’s not wearing any clothes”. I chose not to do this as I didn’t feel it was necessary especially for community theatre. After speaking to Rebekah we decided on lingerie. Her character is a sexy seductive mistress and how that is portrayed is first and for most the acting then through costuming etc. As far as a G-string goes, she had on black dance trunks underneath frilly booty shorts. Rebekah, you’re a lovely woman and so very talented. Don’t take these words too much to heart as it’s an opinion not truth. Love you girl.

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