A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Never take for granted the people in your life
Broadway smash hit musical NINE has hit the stage in Melbourne, with StageArt bringing the show to Chapel off Chapel until 3rd November. The musical, like the film of the same name, is based on the semi-autobiographical 1963 film of Italian film director/screenwriter Federico Fellini's life, titled 8½.
The Fellini equivalent in NINE is also an Italian film director and screenwriter, Guido Contini (Anthony Scundi). Guido has previously had a successful career, but, hitting middle age, he encounters writer's block, impossible pressure from his agent, failing confidence in his ability, and disillusionment from the women in his life.
The long suffering Luisa (Alana Tranta) with Guido (Anthony Scundi)
And there are many women, from Guido's past as well as present. In the immediate circle are the long-suffering Luisa (Alana Tranter), Guido's wife, who has given him as much rope as she can, and is finally calling him to order. There is naive mistress, Carla, who thinks Guido wants to marry her. And there is is Claudia (Courtney Glass), a glamorous movie star, whom it appears has a long history of on-again off-again dalliances with Guido. Finally, all have had enough and Guido finds himself left alone and unsupported. He wonders whether he will live or die, and the answer comes from the spirit world (or perhaps his unhinged mind).
One of Guido's love interests, Claudia (Courtney Glass)
NINE sports a fairly large cast, with no fewer than 14 women, as well as Guido, and the young Guido (played on this night by Kershawn Theodore). On a number of occasions, the whole company is either on stage, or just off it, with Director and Choreographer Michael Ralph cleverly maximising the available space for impact.
NINE features a large cast
The opening night performance by Anthony Scundi as Guido Contini was outstanding. It's a challenging role - singing difficult, staccato lyrics, with complex and at times unconventional harmonies, while performing dance routines that involve elegantly leaping around the stage with a dexterity reminiscent of Fred Astaire in Singing in the Rain. Add to this the acting dimension of going through a breakdown, and you get an understanding of how few performers could convincingly take on the role. But Scundi does, with aplomb. His fabulous rendition of Guido's Song set the standard for the rest of the night's performance.
I particularly enjoyed Alana Tranter's portrayal of Guido's wife, Luisa. The character is strong, resilient, supportive, even - up to a point - tolerant of her husband's waywardness, and I felt Tranter beautifully captured the essence of the role.
Kudos too to young Kershawn Theodore (playing young Guido), who surely has a theatre career ahead of him. It's no surprise to read he already has a decent amount of theatre experience under his belt and was the 2018 winner of the Beyond Blue boys scholarship to the Ministry of Dance Spring School.
With such a large cast, it's difficult to fully credit all the standout performances, but certainly Rachel Bronca was a wonderful vampish Carla, and I loved her burlesque style dance routine; Courtney Glass was divine as the glamorous Claudia; Ana Mitsikas as Guido's mother had a gentle presence that was needed to balance the otherwise fairly manic vibe of the show.
Guido with young Guido (Kershawn Theodore)
NINE is not a happy-ever-after story. It's gritty and thought-provoking. StageArt's production of NINE has much to commend it, with some classy individual performances, top-notch choreography, and wonderful show tunes.
NINE - the Musical plays at Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran, until Saturday 3rd November. Sessions start at 7.30pm most nights, and there are also weekend matinee performances. Running time is 140 minutes including a 20-minute interval.
Tickets are $49 - $69 (plus transaction fee). Click here to buy your tickets online, call the Chapel off Chapel box office on (03) 8290 7000, or buy them at the door (if not sold out).
The images in this article were supplied by StageArt. The photographer is Belinda Strodder.