By Arthur Kopit with Music & Lyrics by Maury Yeston
Directed by Eamon Foley
Produced by the Princeton University Players
Nov. 8th-10th at 8:00 PM in the Matthews Theater, 185 Nassau Street
$10 general, $8 for students
There might be a certain temptation to brand the plot of the musical Nine a mere examination of the life and sexual exploits of a promiscuous Italian director reminiscent of Don Giovanni, and on a superficial level this would suffice as a nice summary of the story.
Guido Contini (Matt Seely) is a struggling film director whose best days are in the past and who amidst marital problems seeks both to fix his relationship with his wife and to save his career. But no matter how hard Contini tries, he lapses into his usual womanizing routine. With each flirtacious remark or suggestive gesture, Contini finds himself more entrenched in a world of physical pleasure. Perhaps the closest analogy one could use is the joy of a chubby boy upon finding himself alone in a candy shop. It is a garden of earthly delights, and Contini is addicted to the thrill of sexual exploits. But what sets the story apart from the usual tale of a womanizer’s decline is the back-story of how Signor Contini developed an extreme case of Don Juanism.
Yet Nine is also a Bildungsroman told out of order, and in addition to the situation described above, the play elaborates on the loss of innocence of a nine-year old Contini, and how the amalgamation of a strict Catholic upbringing and the influence of a woman of the night led a young Guido to develop satyriasis or hypersexuality. Perhaps the most notable scene is found at the end of the first act, where the audience finds a young Guido who, after being punished for being in the presence of a woman of questionable morals, runs away from both home and mother and seeks succor in the bosom of said woman. Guido hands the woman an item, presumably some sort of currency, and is then is led off-stage by her, at which point, the lights turn off signaling the end of the first act and leaves the audience to fill in the gaps as to what probably happened next.
Overall, the Princeton University Players and the musicians did a fine job. The music was delightful and the acting superb. The only caveat is that this production is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Nine is risqué, and on several occasions a nude Mr. Seely can be seen.