Nine: The Musical
September 29, 30, October 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 2006

Click to see show poster.
Guido ContiniGene Connelly
Guido at an early ageRJ Hayward
Luisa ContiniKristen Johnson
Carla AlbaneseRebecca Knappenberger
Claudia NardiKirsten Mikkelsen
Guido's MotherCindy Ernst
Liliane La FleurElizabeth Buss
Lina DarlingNorma Khallouf
Stephanie NecrophorusMelissa M Molinari
Mamma MaddelenaSuzy Gunkle
Our Lady of the SpaKayla Mormak
SarraghinaDelitha Cyphers
DianaRebecca Wenhold
MariaJen Santos
Olga Von SturmLisa Suppan
Heidi Von SturmWendy Borst
Ilsa Von HesseVicki Montesano
Production Staff
Book DirectorClair M. Freeman
Music DirectorRebecca Pieper
ChoreographerSamatha Bushspice Stein
Costume DesignerBrenda McGuire
Stage ManagerNancy Mikkelsen
Asst. Stage ManagerBradford Zuercher
Set Design/ConstructionDan Lewis
Lighting DesignK.T. Cort
Technical OperatorRobert Pacifico
SynthesizerJoe Fink
BassDarren McGuire
PercussionMatt Stein
PianoDale Grandfield

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, .

Dave Howell is a freelance writer.

Jodi Duckett,

Arts and Entertainment Editor



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