Until Sat, Jul 14 (8 pm)
Directed by Kristen Finlay
Walterdale Playhouse $14 – $18
Walterdale Playhouse's 2011/2012 season ends with a bang with its production of Nine.
The acclaimed Broadway musical follows famous Italian film director Guido Contini (Cory Christensen) as he stares down the barrel of a mid-life crisis and a marriage that is falling apart thanks to his career. When he heads out on a holiday to a spa with his wife Luisa (Kristin Johnston) in an attempt to remedy their marriage, he begins a journey of self-exploration through memories and dreams as he tries to make his next great masterpiece.
This weaving of reality, dreams and memory introduces the audience to Contini's mistress, Carla Albanese (Erika Noot), who loves Contini despite being married herself and wants more than the physicality that is the foundation of their relationship, and Claudia Nardi (Nadine Veroba), Contini's muse, who wants him to see her for the person she is, not just his inspiration.
The switches are accentuated by complimenting light effects, which aide the transition, but the plot still requires viewers to pay attention closely if they want to keep up. The rest of the set is made up of soft-hued film strips and reels, with three stripper poles used to spice up a couple of the musical numbers, including “A Call from the Vatican.” Noot demonstrates some impressive pole work, which requires her to belt a high note in a less-than-upright position at its finale. She captures Carla's sensual nature without crossing the line into sleaze and is an easily likeable and relatable character through her own heartaches with Contini.
Christensen's chemistry with each of the women feels genuine throughout. When he's with each one, she's the only person that matters. He truly loves his wife, whose gamut of emotions is navigatedwith ease by Johnston, but needs the companionship of Carla and inspiration from Claudia, who Veroba portrays with an ethereal elegance befitting of her movie
The music is truly what has made the story such a success, and the Walterdale cast pulls of demanding choreography and vocals effortlessly with the accompaniment of a live instrumental quartet. On top of high-energy musical numbers and an intricate plot, the cast was required to take the Italian aspect one step further with accents, which can be tricky territory. However, each cast member pulled off every rolling “R” and nuance as if it were second nature.