The Osher School of Music’s (OSOM) musical theater workshop class performed their rendition of Nine, a musical written by Arthur Kopit & Maury Yeston. Based on the 1963 film, 8 ½, the story tells of an Italian filmmaker, Guido Contini, as he navigates various obstacles in his life: a midlife crisis that provokes a creative block from finishing his next film, and the various affairs he’s held with women alongside his marriage. Over the course of the story, Guido also comes to terms with his childhood, and the chance encounter with a prostitute in his youth that set him on the path to chase dwindling romances in adulthood.
Corthell Hall’s concert hall was decorated with a minimalist set of white boxes, and additional set pieces to create the setting of 1960’s Venice. Due to the massive amounts of talent within the OSOM, the show was double casted, in which the principle cast swapped roles with various members of the ensemble across the production’s four shows. Headed by Louis Brechter and Ben Clouse, who both played the role of Guido Contini in their respective casts, the show made a lasting impression on its audience members.
I found that one aspect of the show that stuck out was the use of choreography throughout the show’s many musical numbers. One of the final numbers in act one included the entire cast using tambourines in a choreographed sequence that was both eye-catching and rhythmic in its use to progress the intensity of the music. Another musical number saw the cast adorned with feather boas and masks, as everyone danced in circles around each other as the scene progressed. Choreographer Vanessa Beyland, whose work was showcased in last semester’s main stage performance of Urinetown, contributed a lot to the immersive factor of the production through choreography.
Dialect coaches were used in the making of the show, culminating in the entire cast speaking in Italian accents to create an authentic feel. The use of these accents seemed to be the cherry on top of the already strong performances that the students portrayed. In particular, Dylan Cao brought a comedic flair to their role as Maurice LeFleur, Guido’s film producer who attempts to point Guido toward making a musical, which turns into an outrageous and vivid concept through the use of another fabulous musical number. Cao brought a sassy, comedic energy that prevailed throughout the show, which I enjoyed a lot.
The show and its story touched a lot on the idea of reconnecting and healing the inner child. Michael Mitchell and Matthew Balfour in their respective casts both played a young Guido, who could be seen running around and reacting to the events on stage. Young Guido barely spoke or sang, save for a few scenes with his mother, but remained very animated throughout the show. Young Guido is shown in his respective scenes sneaking away from his Catholic boarding school to the beach, where he meets the prostitute and outcast, Sarraghina, whom he asks about the idea of love. Word of their meeting reaches the nuns at his school, as well as his mother, and he faces social exclusion from both of these parties. This rejection forces him to return to the beach, where he doesn’t find Sarraghina again, and he learns of what appears to be the vanishing nature of love. This is what sets him on the path to hold many affairs of infidelity with women against his wife, who has been a persevering, nurturing spirit to Guido throughout the story. The show ends with Guido’s film falling apart at the hands of his failed love affairs with the various women (and stars of his movie) in his life. He contemplates suicide as his wife, Luisa, finally leaves him. Young Guido meets with his present counterpart, and convinces him to move on from this period of his life under the guise of “growing taller.” Guido returns from his state, and begins to heal from his mistakes.
While the show has run its course, there are still plenty of opportunities to support your peers in the Osher School of Music. If you’d like to find more information about upcoming shows and concerts, you can find their season’s calendar on the OSOM’s website.