Enchanted April
June 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 2006

Click to see show poster.
CharlotteLaura Sweeney-Riker
RoseBecky Engborg
Mrs. GravesMary-Catherine Bracali
Lady CarolineJennifer Campain
CostanzaCheryl Bowman
FrederickPat Kelly
Mr. WildingWayne Gmitter
MellershVinny Foti
Production Staff
DirectorRody Gilkeson
Stage ManagerBen Phillips
Lighting DesignBrad Youst
Set ConstructionJohn Bracali
CostumerBrenda McGuire

Cast Photos
Click on any image for a larger version, if available.


Pennsylvania Playhouse's 'Nine' hits almost all the right notes

By Dave Howell Special to The Morning Call

If you like musicals, but are tired of seeing the same ones over and over, the Pennsylvania Playhouse production of ''Nine'' might be for you.

''Nine,'' an adaptation of Italian director Federico Fellini's 1963 film ''81/2,'' won the 1982 Tony for Best Musical and the 2003 Tony for Best Revival. It's an autobiographical look at Fellini's struggles with both his filmmaking and his personal life. The musical takes away most of the film's surreal elements to focus on the director's relationships.

All the action takes place on one set, a Venetian spa. Charming but emotionally stunted director Guido Contini (Gene Connelly) takes his wife Luisa (Kristen Johnson) there, both to escape and to try to come up with a last minute subject for his latest film. However, his other romantic interests turn up.

As he struggles to choose a topic, he flashes back to his misery and confusion growing up in a Catholic boarding school and losing his virginity. RJ Hayward is a natural as the 9-year-old Guido.

When Guido decides to do a film about Casanova, it becomes the thinly disguised story of his own life. He angers his wife and suffers a meltdown.

Playhouse regular Gene Connelly wonderfully captures Guido as a lovable rogue, unable to control his childlike nature. Connelly also nails the dramatic scenes. It takes a fine actor to hold his head in his hands and fall to the ground without looking overly melodramatic.

Connelly is especially good during Guido's dramatic interaction with Claudia (Kirsten Mikkelsen), one of his love interests.

Not all the women are perfectly cast, but all are fine singers, here backed by four musicians. Standouts are Elizabeh Buss as Guido's producer, Liliane La Fleur, imitating a saucy French chanteuse in ''Folies Bergeres''; Delitha Cyphers, playing Sarraghina, to whom Guido lost his virginity, in a sexy rendition of ''Be Italian''; and warm and soaring vocals by Cindy Ernst, as Guido's deceased mother.

Director Clair Freeman moves the action quickly through the absorbing two-a-half hour show. This is not a perfect musical, but at the very least, it deserves a nine out of 10.

''Nine,'' 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 15, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Illick's Mill Road, Bethlehem. Tickets: $18; $15, seniors and children Friday and Sunday only. 610-865-6665, http://www.paplayhouse.org .

Dave Howell is a freelance writer.

Jodi Duckett,

Arts and Entertainment Editor




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