|Basis||Federico Fellini's film 8½|
1984 The National Tour
1992 West End concert
1996 West End
2003 Broadway revival
|Awards||Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Score
Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical
Nine is a musical with a book by Arthur Kopit, music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. The story is based on Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film 8½. It focuses on film director Guido Contini, who is dreading his imminent 40th birthday and facing a midlife crisis, which is blocking his creative impulses and entangling him in a web of romantic difficulties in early-1960s Venice.
Yeston began to work on the musical in 1973. As a teenager, he had seen the Fellini film and was intrigued by its themes. "I looked at the screen and said 'That's me.' I still believed in all the dreams and ideals of what it was to be an artist, and here was a movie about an artist in trouble. It became an obsession," Yeston told the New York Times. He would go on to say "Nine was the thing I really desperately wanted to write—never thinking for a minute that it would ever be produced. The movie had a phenomenal impact on me when I saw it as a teenager when it first came out. I was fascinated with Guido who was going through a second adolescence when I was going through my first! As I grew I began to realize that there was room to explore the reactions of the inner workings of the women in Guido’s wake. I think that’s what opened the gateways of creativity for Nine—to hear from these extraordinary women. The great secret of Nine is that it took 8 1/2 and became an essay on the power of women by answering the question, “What are women to men?” And Nine tells you: they are our mothers, our sisters, our teachers, our temptresses, our judges, our nurses, our wives, our mistresses, our muses." Playwright Mario Fratti began working on the book of the musical in 1977, but the producers and director Tommy Tune eventually decided his script did not work, and brought in Arthur Kopit in 1981 to write an entirely new book, working (as Fratti had) with Maury Yeston as composer/lyricist, but now using Yeston's music, and Fellini's film, as the source. Kopit's new book, along with Yeston's now completed score, became the script that was produced on Broadway in 1982.
Fellini had entitled his film 8½ in recognition of his prior body of work, which included six full-length films, two short films, and one film that he co-directed. Yeston's title for the musical adaptation adds another half-credit to Fellini's output and refers to Guido's age during his first hallucination sequence. Yeston called the musical Nine, explaining that if you add music to 8½, "it's like half a number more."
Guido Contini, famous Italian film director, has turned forty and faces double crises: he has to shoot a film for which he can't write the script, and his wife of twenty years, the film star Luisa del Forno, may be about to leave him if he can't pay more attention to the marriage. As it turns out, it is the same crisis.
Luisa's efforts to talk to him seem to be drowned out by voices in his head: voices of women in his life, speaking through the walls of his memory, insistent, flirtatious, irresistible, potent. Women speaking beyond words (Overture delle Donne). And these are the women Guido has loved, and from whom he has derived the entire vitality of a creative life, now as stalled as his marriage.
In an attempt to find some peace and save the marriage, they go to a spa near Venice (Spa Music), where they are immediately hunted down by the press with intrusive questions about the marriage and—something Guido had not told Luisa about—his imminent film project (Not Since Chaplin).
As Guido struggles to find a story for his film, he becomes increasingly preoccupied—his interior world sometimes becoming indistinguishable from the objective world (Guido's Song). His mistress Carla arrives in Venice, calling him from her lonely hotel room (A Call from the Vatican), his producer Liliane La Fleur, former vedette of the Folies Bergeres, insists he make a musical, an idea which itself veers off into a feminine fantasy of extraordinary vividness (The Script/Folies Bergeres). And all the while, Luisa watches, the resilience of her love being consumed by anxiety for him and a gathering dismay for their lives together (My Husband Makes Movies / Only With You).
Guido's fugitive imagination, clutching at women like straws, eventually plunges through the floor of the present and into his own past where he encounters his mother, bathing a nine-year-old boy—the young Guido himself (Nine). The vision leads him to re-encounter a glorious moment on a beach with Saraghina, the prostitute and outcast to whom he went as a curious child, creeping out of his Catholic boarding school St. Sebastian, to ask her to tell him about love. Her answer, be yourself (Ti Voglio Bene / Be Italian), and the dance she taught him on the sand echoes down to the forty-year old Guido as a talisman and a terrible reminder of the consequences of that night—punishment by the nuns and rejection by his appalled mother (The Bells of St. Sebastian). Unable to bear the incomprehensible dread of the adults, the little boy runs back to the beach to find nothing but the sand and the wind—an image of the vanishing nature of love, and the cause of Guido Contini's artistry and unanchored peril: a fugitive heart.
Back into the present, Guido is on a beach once more. With him, Claudia Nardi, a film star, muse of his greatest successes, who has flown from Paris because he needs her, but this time she does not want the role. He cannot fathom the rejection. He is enraged. He fails to understand that Claudia loves him, too, but wants him to love her as a woman 'not a spirit'—and he realizes too late that this was the real reason that she came—in order to know, and now she does. He cannot love her that way. She is in some way released to love him for what he is, and never to hope for him again. Wryly she calls him "My charming Casanova!" thereby involuntarily giving Guido the very inspiration he needs and for which has always looked to her. As Claudia lets him go with "Unusual Way," Guido grasps the last straw of all—a desperate, inspired movie—a 'spectacular in the vernacular'—set on "The Grand Canal" and cast with every woman in his life.
The improvised movie is a spectacular collision between his real life and his creative one—a film that is as self-lacerating as it is cruel, during which Carla races onto the set to announce her divorce and her delight that they can be married only to be brutally rejected by Guido in his desperate fixation with the next set-up, and which climaxes with Luisa, appalled and moved by his use of their intimacy—and even her words—as a source for the film, finally detonating with sadness and rage. Guido keeps the cameras rolling, capturing a scene of utter desolation—the women he loves, and Luisa whom he loves above all, littered like smashed porcelain across the frame of his hopelessly beautiful failure of a film. "Cut. Print!"
The film is dead. The cast leaves. They all leave. Carla, with "Simple"—words from the articulate broken heart, Claudia with a letter from Paris to say that she has married, and Luisa in a shattering exit from a marriage that has, as she says, been 'all of me' (Be On Your Own).
Guido is alone. "I Can't Make This Movie" ascends into the scream of "Guido out in space with no direction,' and he contemplates suicide. But, as the gun is at his head, there is a final life-saving interruption—from his nine-year-old self (Getting Tall), in which the young Guido points out it is time to move on. To grow up. And Guido surrenders the gun. As the women return in a reprise of the Overture (Reprises), but this time to let him go, only one is absent: Luisa. Guido feels the aching void left by the only woman he will ever love. In the 2003 Broadway production, as the boy led the women off into his own future to the strains of "Be Italian", Luisa steps into the room on the final note, and Guido turned toward her—this time ready to listen.
After nineteen previews, the Broadway production, directed by Tommy Tune and choreographed by Thommie Walsh, opened on May 9, 1982 at the 46th Street Theatre, where it ran for 729 performances. The cast included Raul Julia as Guido, Karen Akers as Luisa, Liliane Montevecchi as Liliane, Anita Morris as Carla, Shelly Burch as Claudia, Camille Saviola as Mama Maddelena, Kathi Moss as Saraghina, Cameron Johann as Young Guido, and Taina Elg as Guido's mother. Raul Julia played Guido for one year from May 9, 1982 to May 8, 1983. Bert Convy was a replacement for Raul Julia's vacation (one month beginning January 10, 1983). Sergio Franchi starred as Guido from May 9, 1983 to close—February 4, 1984 (@330 performances). Composer Maury Yeston added a Franchi-style ballad, "Now is the Moment," to the lovely Italian-sounding score." Other replacements were Maureen McGovern and then Eileen Barnett as Luisa, Wanda Richert as Carla, Priscilla Lopez as Liliane, and Barbara Stock as Claudia. The musical won five Tony Awards, including best musical. An original cast recording was released by Sony.
The National Tour
The original plans were for the Broadway show to continue even as The National Tour commenced. However the new producers (James Nederlander and Zev Bufman) made the right offer for the road show, and the Broadway production was closed so that the whole Broadway cast could go on the road with Sergio Franchi as the headliner. Nineteen cities were originally planned, but several venue changes were made during the tour. The most prominent was the cancelling of a Baton Rouge venue so that show could serve for the Grand Opening of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera season. This was to accommodate the cancellation of On Your Toes after Leslie Caron (the star) was hospitalized due to a hip injury. When the decision was made to close the road show after the San Francisco venue, Louisiana fans were upset that an alternate date had not been created for them. [Sergio Franchi was extremely popular in Louisiana] The reviews were generally very favorable, although a DC reviewer lamented some production changes [although admitting that they had not viewed the original Broadway production]. The production venue was changed from a spa to a railroad station...principally to accommodate the volume of scenery that needed to be transported from location to location. The other change lamented in DC was the lighting. One review of the Florida production acknowledged that the grey railroad station with light-studded arches may have been "even more surreal than its creators may have intended." In contrast, the San Diego reviewer expressed admiration for Marcia Madeira's "flattering light design" and declared 'Nine' to be "wonderful to watch."
- 1984 "Nine" – The National Tour – Sergio Franchi starring as Guido Contini (Although not a complete list, the following references were found:
- Washington DC – Kennedy Center Opera House – April 4, 1984 through April 21, 1984
- Miami Beach FL – Miami Beach Theater of Performing Arts – May 4, 1984 through May 17, 1984
- Los Angeles CA – Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Music Center - May 23, 1984 through June 1, 1984
- Dallas TX – Majestic Theater – June 5, 1984 through June 17, 1984
- San Diego, CA - Fox Theater - July 2, 1984 through July 7, 1984
- Seattle, WA - 5th Avenue Theater - July 10, 1984 through July 15, 1984
- San Francisco, CA - (There during week of August 24, 1984)
On June 7, 1992, the largest production of Nine to date was presented in concert in London at Royal Festival Hall with Jonathan Pryce, Elizabeth Sastre, Ann Crumb, Kate Copstick, and Liliane Montevecchi. 165 people were in the cast, including male characters, as originally conceived. The production was directed by Andrew MacBean and a recording of the concert (with Elaine Paige stepping in as Claudia) was released by RCA Victor.
On December 12, 1996, a small-scale production directed by David Leveaux and choreographed by Jonathan Butterell opened at the Donmar Warehouse, where it ran for three months. Performers included Larry Lamb (Guido Contini), Ian Covington (Young Guido), Sara Kestelman (Liliane La Fleur), Clare Burt (Carla), Eleanor David (Claudia), Susannah Fellows (Luisa), Jenny Galloway (Saraghina), Ria Jones (Stephanie Necrophorus), Dilys Laye (Guido's Mother), Kiran Hocking (Our Lady of the Spa). Other cast members included Emma Dears, Kristin Marks, Tessa Pritchard, Sarah Parish, Norma Atallah and Susie Dumbreck. It was designed by Anthony Ward.
In 2003, the Roundabout Theatre Company produced a Broadway revival with director Leveaux and choreographer Butterell. It opened on April 10, 2003 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, where it ran for 283 performances and 23 previews and won two Tony Awards, including best revival. The cast included Antonio Banderas as Guido (who received a Tony Award nomination), Mary Stuart Masterson as Luisa (who received a Tony Award nomination), Chita Rivera as Liliane, Jane Krakowski as Carla (winning the Tony), Laura Benanti as Claudia, and Mary Beth Peil as Guido's mother. Replacements later in the run included John Stamos as Guido, Eartha Kitt as Liliane, Rebecca Luker as Claudia, and Marni Nixon as Guido's mother. A revival cast recording was released by PS Classics. Jenna Elfman was hired and advertised to join the cast as Carla at the same time that Stamos and Kitt were joining the production. A few days before the opening it was announced she needed more rehearsal time and that her understudy Sara Gettelfinger would take over temporarily. Elfman never did join the company and Gettelfinger played the rest of the run.
The Australian production of Nine was staged in 1987. The cast included a young Tina Arena, the Australian singer, songwriter and actor who went on to have an international recording and performing career.
The Argentinian Production of "Nine" (1998) is one of the most acclaimed and remembered presentations, and it won several ACE Awards. Performers included Juan Darthes as Guido, and Elena Roger, Ligia Piro, Luz Kerz, Sandra Ballesteros and Mirta Wons among the cast.
The musical will premiere in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Fall 2010 with Ernesto Concepción as Guido Contini, Sara Jarque as Luisa, Wanda Sais as Carla, Marian Pabón as Lilliane Le Fleur, Tita Guerrero as Lina Darling, Michelle Brava as Claudia Nardi, Aidita Encarnación as Saraghina, Yezmín Luzzed as Stephanie Necrophorus and Hilda Ramos as Mamma. Directed by Miguel Rosa who previously directed the Puerto Rico premiere of "Rent The Musical" in 2009.
Phoenix Theatre in Arizona revived "Nine" in spring of 2011.
The musical premiered in Manila, the Philippines in September 2012 - produced by Atlantis Productions. In the Manila Production, Jett Pangan stars as Italian filmmaker Guido Contini with an all-star cast of women. Tony Award winning scenic designer, David Gallo joins the creative team. Costumes will be designed by New York-based Filipino Fashion Designer, Robin Tomas.
The musical will premiere in Czech Republic, in the Theatre of Josef Kajetan Tyl in Pilsen on December 2012.
On April 12, 2007, Variety announced that Rob Marshall would direct a feature film adaptation of Nine for the Weinstein Company. Marshall had previously directed Chicago for the Weinsteins while they were still at Miramax. The screenplay is written by Anthony Minghella with Michael Tolkin serving as an uncredited co-scripter. The cast consists of Academy Award winners Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, and Sophia Loren, with Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Kate Hudson and Grammy winning singer Fergie. Among other cast changes in the film version, the character of Mama Maddelena does not appear, and Claudia's surname was changed from Nardi to Jenssen. The film's final coda is more hopeful and optimistic than the stage version. In addition, director Marshall cut most of the original production's score, with only "Overture delle Donne," "Guido's Song," "A Call from the Vatican," "Folies Bergeres," "Be Italian," "My Husband Makes Movies," "Unusual Way," and an extended version of "I Can't Make This Movie" making it into the final edit of the film. Composer Maury Yeston wrote three new songs for the movie including "Cinema Italiano," "Guarda la Luna" to replace the title song, and "Take It All" in place of "Be On Your Own," as well as the instrumental concluding the film. The film is co-produced by Marshall's own production company Lucamar Productions. The film was released in the US on December 18, 2009 in New York and Los Angeles and opened for wide release on December 25, 2009.
Note 1: Maury Yeston added a new number, "Now is the Moment" for Sergio Franchi.
Note 2: The 2003 revival eliminated "The Germans at the Spa".
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1982||Tony Award||Best Musical||Won|
|Best Book of a Musical||Arthur Kopit||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Maury Yeston||Won|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Raul Julia||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Karen Akers||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Tommy Tune||Won|
|Best Choreography||Thommie Walsh||Nominated|
|Best Scenic Design||Lawrence Miller||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||William Ivey Long||Won|
|Best Lighting Design||Marcia Madeira||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Shelly Burch||Nominated|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Tommy Tune||Won|
|Outstanding Lyrics||Maury Yeston||Won|
|Outstanding Costume Design||William Ivey Long||Won|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Marcia Madeira||Won|
|Theatre World Award||Karen Akers||Won|
Original London production
|1996||Laurence Olivier Award||Best New Musical||Nominated|
2003 Broadway revival
|2003||Tony Award||Best Revival of a Musical||Won|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Antonio Banderas||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Jane Krakowski||Won|
|Mary Stuart Masterson||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||David Leveaux||Nominated|
|Best Lighting Design||Brian MacDevitt||Nominated|
|Best Orchestrations||Jonathan Tunick||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Revival||Won|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Antonio Banderas||Won|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Mary Stuart Masterson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||David Leveaux||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Antonio Banderas||Won|
|Mary Stuart Masterson||Won|
- Q&A with Yeston in Broadway.com
- Kalfatovic, Mary. "Maury Yeston", Contemporary Musicians (ed. Luann Brennan). Vol. 22, Gale Group, Inc., 1998
- Arnold, Christine. "Franchi: Italian to the 'Nine.'" (May 21, 1984). Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA
- Foil, David. (January 25, 1984). "En Harde / Notes from all over." The Advocate (Louisiana), Baton Rouge, LA
- "'On Your Toes' Cancelled." (April 26, 1984). Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA
- No headline. (August 24, 1984). The Advocate (Louisiana), Baton Rouge, LA
- "'Nine': Fellini Sans Feeling." (April 13, 1984). The Washington Post, Washington, DC
- Sheward, David. (1994). It's a Hit! The Backstage Book of the Longest-Running Broadway Shows. (Watson-Guptil, New York). ISBN 0823076369
- Harper, Hillard. (July 14, 1984). "'Nine' in S.D. / Fox [theater] Tests Voices of Play's Cast." Los Angeles, CA
- "Performance / Mini Reviews." April 20, 1984). The Washington Post," Washington, DC
- Advertisement. (May 3, 1984). The Miami News, Miami Beach, FL
- Drake, Sylvia. (May 26, 1984). "An Italian-Style 'Nine' Makes Points of its Own." Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA
- "Dallas / Theater / 'Nine' at Dallas Majestic June 5–17." (June, 1984) Texas Monthly, (Ennis Publishing; Austin, TX)
- Advertisement. (June 24, 1984). "'Nine' at the 5th Avenue July 10–15, 1984." The Seattle Times, Seattle, WA
- Domar Warehouse production
- University of Kent library archive
- Hernandez, Ernio."Report: Jenna Elfman Replaced by Sara Gettelfinger in 'Nine'" playbill.com, October 10, 2003
- Nine synopsis and cast on Apple Movie Trailers