Nine out of Ten: MUSE’s NINE

Sam Herzog is an Italian chef doing that circle thing with his thumb and finger

There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe MUSE’s production of the musical Nine. In a nutshell, it was the most powerful, electrifying, entertaining, and technically superb production I have seen in a while.

Nine tells the story of womanising filmmaker Guido Contini’s midlife crisis. Contini is suffering from writer’s block and Luisa, Contini’s wife, is threatening to leave him if he can’t better attend to their marriage. The story explores love and the pressures that face a Casanova in his creative pursuit.

Both vocal and acting performances in Nine were strong. Doug Emery’s captivating performance as Guido Contini was unforgettable, and I was enraptured by Emery’s charm and technical skill. Emery should be immensely proud of such a solid performance. Bridget Haberecht’s role as the distraught Luisa Contini was also thoroughly convincing and I highly commend her. Her outburst at Guido during filming on The Grand Canal sent pine needles of euphoric terror down my spine. Additionally, Anna Colless’ seductive performance as Carla throughout the musical and especially during ‘A Call from the Vatican’ was another stand out in a production where just about everything was exemplary. Emery, Haberecht, and Colless’ Italian accents in particular were exceptionally polished, however, well-rounded performances oozing with talent were also delivered from many others, including Hannah Cox, Bronwyn Hicks, and Sam Wood as the young Guido.

Nine delivered an impressively fluid and imaginative use of space with nothing but chairs forming much of the set. Technical aspects of the production, such as choreography by Natasha Heyward and set design by Shakira Wilson and Oliver Cameron, were elegantly conceived. I applaud Jonathon Rush’s direction and Alex Norden for his role as musical director. My only regret is that Nine is not being staged for very long, otherwise I would definitely go see it again.

Everyone involved in MUSE’s Nine should congratulate themselves on such a fine effort. Molto bene!

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