Adapted by Mario Fratti
Directed by Kristen Finlay
Starring Cory Christensen, Jeffrey Swanson, Kristin Johnston, Erika Noot and Nadine Veroba
Walterdale Playhouse (10322 83 Ave.)
Runs Wednesday July 4 – Saturday, July 7 and Tuesday, July 10 – Saturday July 14 at 8 p.m., Sunday July 8 at 2 p.m.
Tickets starting at $14 at tixonthesquare.ca
The Walterdale Playhouse is turning to a musical known for its theatricality and spectacle as they prepare to present Nine for their last production of the season. As a theatre company known for tackling unusual shows, Nine promises to be an appropriate — if not demanding — choice of musical to close the year.
“I think it suits us,” director Kristen Finlay muses. “I think it’s a good fit for Walterdale in that it’s not your typical musical. There’s a little more edge, a little more drama. It’s definitely more of a dramatic musical in a lot of ways. I think Walterdale’s about that, kind of pushing boundaries in that way and not necessarily doing the typical or the usual or the traditional.”
It’s true that Nine proves itself to be far from an average musical at every turn. A spectacle on several levels, the show takes us into the life of Guido Contini, a genius Italian film director whose life is slowly spiraling out of control. As the presence of his wife, mistress and muse slowly begin to converge on him, the underlying pressure of his looming film deadline soon becomes almost too much for a man who ultimately can’t bring himself to grow up.
Flipping from Guido’s reality to his imagination throughout the show, Nine is as introspective as it is unconventional. While many mistakenly believe that the title refers to the number of women in his life, it actually has to do with the character’s nine-year-old self, who is never far from the director’s mind. In fact, many of the Guido’s issues stem from his all-too-typical desire to be a kid again.
“Part of Guido’s process of growing up is reflecting on his nine-year-old self because there’s a part of him that still wants to be nine,” Finlay says. “Nine is a cresting point; it’s just before you figure out about girls but you’re still a kid to your mother. A lot of things come back to the fact that he doesn’t really want to grow up and so in the process of the play he has to figure out a way to grow up and face life.”
The fact that so much of the show takes place in Guido’s mind means that the possibilities for dramatic flair are endless. Since things that go on in our imagination are often far more spectacular than real life, the self-analyzing nature of Guido’s character allows for a fair share of over-the-top numbers and theatricality. Finley’s addition of three silver stripper poles for the song “Call From The Vatican” only pushes that further, bringing the physicality and wow factor of the musical to a new level.
Still, Finlay is quick to point out that as conflicted as Guido’s character is, at heart he’s a genius filmmaker whose passion for life and film ooze from everything he does. This sentiment extends to the cast and crew of Nine as well, proving that the musical may have been an even more fitting choice for a season closer that anyone would’ve suspected.
“Just like how we can see with Guido that there’s passion for what he’s doing, we’re all artists at heart here,” Finlay says “We do it because we love it.”
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