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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE in MA » MASSACHUSETTS (all topics) » SpeakEasy Stage Company Makes “Nine” a Ten
Maureen Keiller as Liliane LaFleur in Nine
SpeakEasy Stage Company Makes “Nine” a Ten

Theatre Review - Boston Massachusetts

By Rhiannon L. D’Angelo | February 04, 2011

Guido Contini is in the midst of a midlife and marital crisis after turning forty. As any other ingenious Italian film director would do - he escapes to a Venetian spa to gain inspiration, cure his writer’s block and save his career.

Jennifer Ellis and Timothy John Smith

While in Venice, Contini, who it’s safe to say, is quite popular with the ladies, finds himself examining his past relationships with the numerous women who have come into his life.

Timothy John Smith gives a commanding performance as Guido Contini in the SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of Nine, directed by Paul Daigneault and running through February 20, 2011 at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. Nine is based on Federico Fellini’s film , the book by Arthur Kopit with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston.

A trio of women - Contini’s had-it-up-to-here wife Luisa (Aimee Doherty), his mistress Carla (McCaela Donovan) and his lead actress and muse Claudia (Jennifer Ellis) lead the estrogen-fueled cast.   Of the seventeen characters, only Smith as Guido and actors Erik March and Andrew Stewart alternating as Little Guido are male.

Contini struggles to keep his marriage intact while Carla continues to tempt him, even showing up at the spa at one point.   Meanwhile, his quirky French producer, Liliane LaFleur, played flawlessly by Maureen Keiller, continues to pressure Contini for a non-existent movie script. Keiller and company’s performance of the song “Folies Bergeres” is a feast for the eyes and ears.

The Cast of Nine

In addition to vacillating between his three leading ladies, Contini is haunted by the ghosts of his past.   His deceased mother (Cheryl McMahon) frets over his state of life and traces the roots of his problems back to his parochial school encounter with prostitute Sarraghina (Kerry Dowling) when he is nine years old. Dowling’s rendition of “Be Italian” is a catchy showstopper. Claudia and Guido are the stars of Act II with performances of “A Man Like You” and “Unusual Way.”

Costume designer Charles Schoonmaker nailed the wardrobes of the mainly female company.   Each costume epitomized effortless European chic. As for the set, simplicity reigns on designer Eric Levenson’s stage.   Stone arches worthy of a Venetian palazzo remain for the entire play. Through a magical use of music and lighting, Nine easily moves through Guido’s cluttered mind of memories.

Built in 2000, The Calderwood Pavilion, houses the 360-seat Virginia Wimberly Theatre and the 200-seat Nancy and Edward Roberts Studio Theatre. The immaculate structure is worth a visit on its own - with its swank snack bar and comfortable seats, the South End may be giving the theatre district a run for its money.


Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts

539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

Tickets: $30 - $57

Box Office: (617) 933-8600



All images appear courtesy of SpeakEasy Stage Company.

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