By Nicole Veenstra
While the sets in Nine may have been minimal, the talent was not. Last weekend a talented cast and crew from Westminster College of the Arts joined together in the Yvonne Theater to present the musical, which is based on Federico Fellini’s autobiographical film, 8 1/2.
Directed by assistant professor Dr. Nathan Hurwitz, Nine centers on Italian director Guido Contini, portrayed by senior Christopher Bober. Contini is a man struggling to deal with his impending 40th birthday while also trying to write a successful screenplay and keep his wife (Elena Camp), mistress (Amy Donato) and film star muse (Kristen Dacunto) happy. In order to rectify the situation, Contini whisks his wife away to a spa near Venice, only to find out that his mistress and mobs of reporters are there as well.
At times the musical felt a bit redundant because of the lack of color in the costumes and set, but this did not take away from the complexity of the play — which was half reality and half the manifestation of Contini’s thoughts and desires. Character development lacked a bit, as well, depicting Contini as the same lost and confused soul almost from start to finish.
However, the raw talent possessed by each cast member was evident from the opening number, which showcased the singing ability of the women in Contini’s life, creating a slightly confusing but engaging scene.
It’s hard to describe the musical in just a few sentences because of the depth and complexity of each character, as well as the intertwining relationships introduced throughout the show. Regardless of people’s reactions, Nine left the audience with plenty to discuss, question and consider long after the final curtain fell.
One aspect that could not be questioned, however, was the cast’s professionalism and comfort on stage, despite the obvious challenges of the project. To help the students out, parts were revealed back in May, giving them the entire summer to practice and personalize each line before the first rehearsal in September.
Although Nine was not the most exciting musical, the production was clean and professional, something one has come to expect from Westminster performances. It was also nice to see the young cast push themselves, portraying characters who were much older and more experienced while singing on an almost-constant basis.
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