Get in line for Nine

This story was revised on Oct. 16, 2012, to correct mistakes, which are explained at the end.

By J’na Jefferson

Producer Lilliane La Fleur (Alexa Shanahan) lets Contini write a script after he promises it will be a musical.

Students from Westminster College of the Arts will take audiences on a journey through the world of “cinema italiano” in their upcoming performances of the musical Nine.

Based on the autobiographical film “8 ½” by Federico Fellini, Nine tells the story of world-renowned filmmaker Guido Contini, who is approaching his 40th birthday. He teeters on the verge of a midlife crisis, filled with creative and social anxiety stemming from struggling to write a script for his upcoming film while juggling his marriage to his wife, Luisa, with relationships with his mistress, Carla, and film star muse, Claudia. Contini reminisces about the days of his youth while attempting to complete his script, allowing audiences to wonder whether he values love or his career more.

The cast of Nine has been preparing since May, according to junior musical theater major Samantha Penick, who plays a variety of roles as part of the show’s ensemble.

Contini has a wandering eye despite the support he receives from his wife Louisa (Elena Camp).

“The rehearsal process was a bit different as we learned our lines and music over the summer,” Penick said. “By coming in so prepared, we were able to play around with the show and fine-tune everything more than we normally would.”

Dr. Nathan Hurwitz, the director and musical supervisor of the performance, provided the cast with a welcoming and helpful environment so the actors could focus on perfecting the show while staying on top of schoolwork. In addition, senior Alex Harrington is the musical director and Ginger Thatcher is the choreographer.

Sophomore musical theater major Emily Scripps said that she learned a great deal from the experience.

“Ginger is an amazing choreographer who has worked on Broadway before,” Scripps said. “It is a privilege to learn from her. Nathan is both very serious and down-to-business and also funny and easy to work with. I couldn’t ask for a better directing team.”

Senior Chris Bober, who plays Contini, is thrilled to play the lead in one of his last performances at Rider.

Guido Contini (Christopher Bober) embraces his fiery mistress Carla (Mallory Miller) while serenading her, promising, “I wouldn’t be lonely if I could be only with you.” He also shares this sentiment with both his wife Louisa and his film-star muse Claudia.

“Everybody involved in this production has been extremely professional from day one and has helped to better prepare me for the professional world of theater once I leave Rider,” he said. “It is truly an honor and a gift to have been given such a wonderful opportunity to play the lead in this musical. I have learned so much and been pushed in so many different ways as an artist and a student.”

Even though rehearsals have been tiring, the cast has stayed polished and close-knit, according to sophomore musical theater major Angelica Staikos, who is making her theatrical debut at Rider as the Venetian gondolier.

“There’s still the same amount of professionalism in this show as the others, but this is a really close group,” Staikos said. “It’s like that cliché thing [to say] that we all feel like one big family, but that’s how it really is. It’s such a wonderful way to get started in my performing career at Rider.”

View an Interview with “Nine” director Nathan Hurwitz and Nine cast talks about the show.

In the first paragraph, Westminster School of the Arts was incorrectly referred to as Westminster Choir College. In the second paragraph, “8 1/2” was incorrectly called an autobiographical book when it is actually an autobiographical film.

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