Nine (musical)

Nine (musical)
Original Playbill
Music Maury Yeston
Lyrics Maury Yeston
Book Arthur Kopit
Basis Federico Fellini's film
Productions 1982 Broadway
1992 West End concert
1996 West End
2003 Broadway revival
Awards Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Score
Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical

Nine is a musical with a book by Arthur Kopit, music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. The story is based on Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film . It focuses on film director Guido Contini, savoring his most recent (and greatest) success but dreading his imminent 40th birthday and a midlife crisis blocking his creative impulses and entangling him in a web of romantic difficulties in early-1960s Venice.

The original Broadway production opened in 1982 and ran for 729 performances, starring Raul Julia. The musical won five Tony Awards, including best musical, and has enjoyed a number of revivals.



Yeston began to work on the musical in 1973.[1] As a teenager, he had seen the Fellini film and was intrigued by its themes. "I looked at the screen and said 'That's me.' I still believed in all the dreams and ideals of what it was to be an artist, and here was a movie about an artist in trouble. It became an obsession," Yeston told the New York Times.[2] Playwright Mario Fratti began working on the book of the musical in 1977, but the producers and director Tommy Tune eventually decided his script did not work, and brought in Arthur Kopit in 1981 to write an entirely new book, working (as Fratti had) with Maury Yeston as composer/lyricist, but now using Yeston's music, and Fellini's film, as the source. Kopit's new book, along with Yeston's now completed score, became the script that was produced on Broadway in 1982.

Fellini had entitled his film in recognition of his prior body of work, which included six full-length films, two short films, and one film that he co-directed. Yeston's title for the musical adaptation adds another half-credit to Fellini's output and refers to Guido's age during his first hallucination sequence. Yeston called the musical Nine, explaining that if you add music to , "it's like half a number more."[2]


Guido Contini, famous Italian film director, has turned forty and faces double crises: he has to shoot a film for which he can't write the script, and his wife of twenty years, the film star Luisa del Forno, may be about to leave him if he can't pay more attention to the marriage. As it turns out, it is the same crisis.

Luisa's efforts to talk to him seem to be drowned out by voices in his head: voices of women in his life, speaking through the walls of his memory, insistent, flirtatious, irresistible, potent. Women speaking beyond words (Overture delle Donne). And these are the women Guido has loved, and from whom he has derived the entire vitality of a creative life, now as stalled as his marriage.

In an attempt to find some peace and save the marriage, they go to a spa near Venice (Spa Music), where they are immediately hunted down by the press with intrusive questions about the marriage and—something Guido had not told Luisa about—his imminent film project (Not Since Chaplin).

As Guido struggles to find a story for his film, he becomes increasingly preoccupied—his interior world sometimes becoming indistinguishable from the objective world (Guido's Song). His mistress Carla arrives in Venice, calling him from her lonely hotel room (A Call from the Vatican), his producer Liliane La Fleur, former vedette of the Folies Bergeres, insists he make a musical, an idea which itself veers off into a feminine fantasy of extraordinary vividness (The Script/Folies Berg eres). And all the while, Luisa watches, the resilience of her love being consummed by anxiety for him and a gathering dismay for their lives together (My Husband Makes Movies / Only With You).

Guido's fugitive imagination, clutching at women like straws, eventually plunges through the floor of the present and into his own past where he encounters his mother, bathing a nine year old boy—the young Guido himself (Nine). The vision leads him to re-encounter a glorious moment on a beach with Saraghina, the prostitute and outcast to whom he went as a curious child , creeping out of his Catholic boarding school St. Sebastian, to ask her to tell him about love. Her answer, be yourself (Ti Voglio Bene / Be Italian), and the dance she taught him on the sand echoes down to the forty-year old Guido as a talisman and a terrible reminder of the consequences of that night—punishment by the nuns and rejection by his appalled mother (The Bells of St. Sebatian). Unable to bear the incomprehensible dread of the adults, the little boy runs back to the beach to find nothing but the sand and the wind—an image of the vanishing nature of love, and the cause of Guido Contini's artistry and unanchored peril: a fugitive heart.

Back into the present, Guido is on a beach once more. With him, Claudia Nardi, a film star, muse of his greatest successes, who has flown in from Paris because he needs her. But this time she doesn't want the role. He cannot fathom the rejection. He is enraged. He fails to understand that Claudia loves him too, but wants him to love her as a woman 'not a spirit'—and he realizes too late that this was the real reason she came—in order to know. And now she does. He can't love her that way. And she is in some way released to love him for what he is, and never to hope for him again. Wryly she calls him "My charming Casanova!" thereby involuntarily giving Guido the very inspiration he needs and has always looked to her for. As Claudia lets him go with "Unusual Way", Guido grasps the last straw of all—a desperate, inspired movie—a 'spectacular in the vernacular'—set on "The Grand Canal" and cast with every woman in his life.

The improvised movie is a spectacular collision between his real life and his creative one—a film that is as self-lacerating as it is cruel, during which Carla races onto the set to announce her divorce and her delight that they can be married only to be brutally rejected by Guido in his desperate fixation with the next set-up, and which climaxes with Luisa, appalled and moved by his use of their intimacy—and even her words—as a source for the film, finally detonating with sadness and rage. Guido keeps the cameras rolling, capturing a scene of utter desolation—the women he loves, and Luisa who he loves above all, littered like smashed porcelain across the frame of his hopelessly beautiful failure of a film. "Cut. Print!"

The film is dead. The cast leaves. They all leave. Carla, with "Simple"—words from the articulate broken heart, Claudia with a letter from Paris to say she has married, and Luisa in a shattering exit from a marriage that has, as she says, been 'all of me' (Be On Your Own).

Guido is alone. "I Can't Make This Movie" ascends into the scream of "Guido out in space with no direction,' and he contemplates suicide. But, as the gun is at his head, there is a final life-saving interruption—from his nine year old self (Getting Tall), in which the young Guido points out it is time to move on. To grow up. And Guido surrenders the gun. As the women return in a reprise of the Overture (Reprises), but this time to let him go, only one is absent. Luisa. And Guido feels the aching void left by the only woman he will ever love. In the 2003 Broadway production, as the boy led the women off into his own future to the strains of "Be Italian", Luisa stepped into the room on the final note, and Guido turned towards her—this time ready to listen.


Original Broadway

After nineteen previews, the Broadway production, directed by Tommy Tune and choreographed by Thommie Walsh, opened on May 9, 1982 at the 46th Street Theatre, where it ran for 729 performances. The cast included Raul Julia as Guido, Karen Akers as Luisa, Liliane Montevecchi as Liliane, Anita Morris as Carla, Shelly Burch as Claudia, Camille Saviola as Mama Maddelena, Kathi Moss as Saraghina, Cameron Johann as Young Guido, and Taina Elg as Guido's mother. Raul Julia played Guido for one year from May 9,1982 to May 8, 1983. Bert Convy was a replacement for Raul Julia's vacation (January 10, 1983 - ?). Sergio Franchi starred as Guido from May 9, 1983 to close, February 4, 1984. Sergio Franchi also starred in the Road Show version in 1984. Other replacements were Maureen McGovern as Luisa, Wanda Richert as Carla, Priscilla Lopez as Liliane. The musical won five Tony Awards, including best musical. An original cast recording was released by Sony.

London productions

On June 7, 1992, the largest production of Nine to date was presented in concert in London at Royal Festival Hall with Jonathan Pryce, Elizabeth Sastre, Ann Crumb, Kate Copstick, and Liliane Montevecchi. 165 people were in the cast, including male characters, as originally conceived. The production was directed by Andrew MacBean and a recording of the concert (with Elaine Paige stepping in as Claudia) was released by RCA Victor.

On December 12, 1996, a small-scale production directed by David Leveaux and choreographed by Jonathan Butterell opened at the Donmar Warehouse, where it ran for three months. Performers included Larry Lamb (Guido Contini), Ian Covington (Young Guido), Sara Kestelman (Liliane La Fleur), Clare Burt (Carla), Eleanor David (Claudia), Susannah Fellows (Luisa), Jenny Galloway (Saraghina), Ria Jones (Stephanie Necrophorus), Dilys Laye (Guido's Mother), Kiran Hocking (Our Lady of the Spa). Other cast members included Emma Dears, Kristin Marks, Tessa Pritchard, Sarah Parish, Norma Atallah and Susie Dumbreck.[3] It was designed by Anthony Ward.[4]

Broadway revival

In 2003, the Roundabout Theatre Company produced a Broadway revival with director Leveaux and choreographer Butterell. It opened on April 10, 2003 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, where it ran for 283 performances and 23 previews and won two Tony Awards, including best revival. The cast included Antonio Banderas as Guido (who received a Tony Award nomination), Mary Stuart Masterson as Luisa (who received a Tony Award nomination), Chita Rivera as Liliane, Jane Krakowski as Carla (winning the Tony), Laura Benanti as Claudia, and Mary Beth Peil as Guido's mother. Replacements later in the run included John Stamos as Guido, Eartha Kitt as Liliane, Rebecca Luker as Claudia, and Marni Nixon as Guido's mother. A revival cast recording was released by PS Classics. Jenna Elfman was hired and advertised to join the cast as Carla at the same time that Stamos and Kitt were joining the production. A few days before the opening it was announced she needed more rehearsal time and that her understudy Sara Gettelfinger would take over temporarily.[5] Elfman never did join the company and Gettelfinger played the rest of the run.

International productions

The Argentinian Production of "Nine" (1998) is one of the most acclaimed and remembered presentations, and it won several ACE Awards. Performers included Juan Darthes as Guido, and Elena Roger, Ligia Piro, Luz Kerz, Sandra Ballesteros and Mirta Wons among the cast.

The original Japanese production premiered in Tokyo in 2005 with Tetsuya Bessho as Guido Contini and Mizuki Ōura as Liliane La Fleur.

The musical will premiere in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Fall 2010 with Ernesto Concepción as Guido Contini, Sara Jarque as Luisa, Wanda Sais as Carla, Marian Pabón as Lilliane Le Fleur, Tita Guerrero as Lina Darling, Michelle Brava as Claudia Nardi, Aidita Encarnación as Saraghina, Yezmín Luzzed as Stephanie Necrophorus and Hilda Ramos as Mamma. Directed by Miguel Rosa who previously directed the Puerto Rico premiere of "Rent The Musical" in 2009.

Phoenix Theatre in Arizona revived "Nine" in spring of 2011.


On April 12, 2007, Variety announced that Rob Marshall would direct a feature film adaptation of Nine for the Weinstein Company. Marshall had previously directed Chicago for the Weinsteins while they were still at Miramax. The screenplay is written by Anthony Minghella with Michael Tolkin serving as an uncredited co-scripter. The cast consists of Academy Award winners Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, and Sophia Loren, with Academy Award nominee Kate Hudson and Grammy winning singer Fergie.[6] Among other cast changes in the film version, the character of Mama Maddelena does not appear, and Claudia's surname was changed from Nardi to Jenssen. The film's final coda is more hopeful and optimistic than the stage version. In addition, director Marshall cut most of the original production's score, with only "Overture delle Donne," "Guido's Song," "A Call from the Vatican," "Folies Bergeres," "Be Italian," "My Husband Makes Movies," "Unusual Way," and an extended version of "I Can't Make This Movie" making it into the final edit of the film. Composer Maury Yeston wrote three new songs for the movie including "Cinema Italiano," "Guarda la Luna" to replace the title song, and "Take It All" in place of "Be On Your Own," as well as the instrumental concluding the film. The film is co-produced by Marshall's own production company Lucamar Productions. The film was released in the US on December 18, 2009 in New York and Los Angeles and opened for wide release on December 25, 2009.

Musical numbers

Act I
  • "Overture Delle Donne" - Company
  • "Not Since Chaplin" - Company
  • "Guido's Song" - Guido
  • "Coda di Guido" - Company
  • "The Germans at the Spa" - Maddelena, Italians, Germans
  • "My Husband Makes Movies" - Luisa
  • "A Call From the Vatican" - Carla
  • "Only With You" - Guido
  • "The Script/Folies Bergeres" - Lilli, Stephanie, Company
  • "Nine" - Mamma, Company
  • "Ti Voglio Bene/Be Italian" - Saraghina, Boys, Company
  • "The Bells of St. Sebastian" - Guido, Boys, Company
Act II
  • "A Man Like You/Unusual Way/Duet" - Claudia, Guido
  • "The Grand Canal" (Every Girl in Venice/Amor/Only You/Finale) - Guido, Company
  • "Simple" - Carla
  • "Be On Your Own" - Luisa
  • "I Can't Make This Movie" - Guido
  • "Getting Tall" - Young Guido
  • "Nine/Long Ago/Nine" (Reprise) - Guido
2003 revival recording

Note: The 2003 revival eliminated "The Germans at the Spa".

Awards and nominations

1982 Tony Awards

1982 Theatre World Awards

1982 Drama Desk Awards

Shelly Burch (nomination)
Liliane Montevecchi and Anita Morris (WINNERS - tie)

1996 Laurence Olivier Award

  • Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical (nomination)

2003 Tony Awards

  • Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical - Produced by The Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes: Artistic Director; Ellen Richard: Managing Director; Julia C. Levy: Executive Director of External Affairs; Gene Feist: Founding Director) (WINNER)
  • Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical - Antonio Banderas (nomination)
  • Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical - Jane Krakowski (WINNER)
  • Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical - Mary Stuart Masterson (nomination)
  • Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical - Chita Rivera (nomination)
  • Tony Award for Best Lighting Design - Brian MacDevitt (nomination)
  • Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical - David Leveaux (nomination)
  • Tony Award for Best Orchestrations - Jonathan Tunick (nomination)

2003 Theatre World Awards

  • Theatre World Award - Antonio Banderas (WINNER)
  • Theatre World Award - Mary Stuart Masterson (WINNER)

2003 Drama Desk Awards

  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical - Produced by The Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes: Artistic Director; Ellen Richard: Managing Director; Julia C. Levy: Executive Director of External Affairs; Gene Feist: Founding Director) (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Antonio Banderas (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical -
Mary Stuart Masterson (nomination)
Chita Rivera (nomination)
Jane Krakowski (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical - David Leveaux (nomination)


External links

The Official Website of Composer and Lyricist Maury Yeston

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