Thursday, April 24, 2014
By APRIL BOYLE
For the second production of its 60th anniversary season, Lyric Music Theater is inviting patrons to take a musical journey into the midlife crisis- induced musings of Italian film director Guido Contini.
“Nine” by Lyric Music Theater
WHERE: 176 Sawyer St, South Portland
DATE REVIEWED: Friday; play runs through Dec. 1
TICKETS: $21.99 (Seniors 17.99)
CONTACT: 799-1421, www.lyricmusictheater.org
With his marriage ailing and his career on a steady decline, Guido longs to be 9 instead of 40. Past, present and fantasy mingle as he ponders his unraveling life and career.
"Nine" is a musical with a script by Arthur Kopit and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. Lyric's rendition is a fun, lively production, directed by equity actor Raymond Marc Dumont. Theatergoers will recognize Dumont's name from his years of performing at Maine State Music Theatre, most recently appearing as Andy Lee in "42nd Street."
Dumont has selected a talented group of community performers to deliver the song-intense musical.
David Surkin steps into Guido's daydreaming shoes, accompanied by a colorful ensemble of leading ladies that includes Susan Tremblay (Luisa Contini), Celeste Green (Carla Albanese), Amy Torrey (Claudia Nardi), Barbara Laveault (Guido's mother), Kristin Riley (Liliane La Fleur), Ashleigh St. Pierre (Stephanie Necrophorus) and Becky Rinaldi (Saraghina).
"Nine" is based on Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film, "8½," which was released in 1963. It's not a musical most theatergoers are familiar with. Those who are familiar likely saw the 2009 musical film version starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
It may not be a classic, but "Nine" doesn't lack in charm. Infectious songs like "Be Italian" (Rinaldi) are sure to get stuck in your head long after the curtains close. And the dance number on "A Call From the Vatican" (Green) will have men's tongues lolling and women "green" with envy.
The musical is a complex piece to perform and watch. Rather than following a linear storyline, "Nine" drifts in and out of reality and fantasy, past and present.
Lyric's cast tackles the challenging roles commendably, delivering memorable performances that garnered robust applause from the audience Friday night.
As Guido, Surkin provided a pleasing tenor vocal throughout. Tremblay and Torrey complimented with strong performances on such songs as "My Husband Makes Movies" and "A Man Like You/Unusual Way."
There were plenty of lighthearted moments, with Joelle Clingerman (Olga Von Sturm), Sabrina Luy (Heidi Von Sturm), Kari Presnell (Ilsa Von Hesse), Leslie Lampert (Gretchen Von Krupf) and Ali Gordan (Hildegarde Bratts) delighting the audience as a bevy of scene-stealing Germans.
Riley was an obvious crowd favorite as Guido's Parisian producer. Laughter filled the theater as she strutted around the stage, oozing attitude. The audience particularly reveled in her performance with a boa in "Folies Bergeres."
In total, Lyric's "Nine" has a cast of 23, including the adorable Ryan Ball as 9-year-old Guido. The cast keeps the audience entertained and engaged.
"Nine" offer audiences a pleasant break from reality. It's a spa treatment for the senses, with a hard-working cast that delivers a diverting, fun performance.
April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at: