December 2, 2011 at 8:20 am | Posted in Musical Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the Whitireia’s production of the Tony Award winning musical Nine, the other night. The show is an opportunity to show case the it’s graduating musical theatre and commercial dance students. The show had excellent production values and clever use of lighting, back production, and props.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

I was surprised at how sophisticated it was; for some reason I expecting something a bit lighter and humorous. Instead, it was dramatic: as it explored the facets of the main character – Guido Contini. Nine is a semi-biographical portrayal Federico Fellini’s – the famous Italian film director – life. At times it was almost operatic.

The whole show revolves around the Guido character and Nick Purdie carried the show well – displaying on stage maturity that belied his relatively young age. Guido is under a lot of pressure, as his personal life falls apart, and his reputation is assaulted by a series of ‘flops’. He takes refuge at a seaside spa to get away from it all, but on ends up running head on into his problems: his mistress Carla ends up leaving him; his decease mother (played by Caitlin Barrie comes to him in visions; he needs a film plot; and his muse deserts him too.

The seductive ‘telephone’ scene featuring Carla was ably handled by Bridget Connor as she sang and draped herself over the stage and Guido. The emotional duet between Guido and Claudia (played by Bethany Gould) was wonderful – there was a real sense of connection between the “director” and his favourite actress (and muse). In the end only his wife (played by Emma Walker) comes back to him.

In between all the singing are – true to the show’s Broadway roots – dance sequences. At times there was a Bollywood feel to it.

At the end of the show, I felt a bit exhausted from Guido’s emotional journey through his life and the encounters with his women. But Whitireia was ready with a happy fix. The night ended with a little upbeat dance piece Be Italian!. The transition into the dance was a bit of uneven and I think the transition could be smoothed by changing the choreography slightly and introducing the dance piece as one of Guido’s films.

Well done everyone.


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