Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe


Musical Theatre Southwest
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Mark's review of November and Rob's review of La Cage aux Folles

Image Courtesy of Musical Theatre Southwest
Nine is an oddball of a musical. Written in 1973, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and book by Arthur Kopit, it roughly follows the storyline of Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical 1963 movie, . Fellini used the number to indicate the number of films he had directed. Yeston said he called it Nine because the music bumped it up a half point.

That's not the oddball part. The story follows the travails of Guido Contini, a film director who has slammed into a wall of writer's block. His next feature is scheduled to begin production in a week and he's got nothing. Meanwhile, he's under pressure from his wife to be faithful; he's under pressure from his mistress to divorce his wife; and he's under pressure from his producer to work with her chosen writer, a woman who hates Guido's guts. On top of it all, his former leading lady doesn't want to be in his next feature—if he's ever able to come up with an idea for the feature. He's got a ton of girl trouble.

I guess that's fine for 1963 when Fellini's film was released. I guess it was also fine in 1973 when the story was drafted into a musical, and perhaps it was even fine in 1982 when the musical hit Broadway starring Raul Julia. It garnered five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Yet in the 2018 world of #metoo, Nine stands out in its utter tone-deafness. We suffer the story of an entertainment semi-mogul who preys on women even as he depends on their sympathy. We see him as his luck runs out. And I'm thinking, it's about time.

Given all this, I wasn't in full swing with Guido's insufferable story, but this production directed by Robb Anthony Sisneros is filled with wonderful actors in great voice, and Jonathan Gallegos as Guido is superb in both his acting and singing. While the production didn't quite flip my resistance to Guido's self-pitying troubles, they sure made it an enjoyable ride.

Sisneros has done a solid job in all facets of the production. In addition to Gallegos, he cast some of Musical Theatre Southwest's top women actors, including Courtney Awe as Guido's wife Luisa, Lacey Bingham as the French producer, Megan Chavez as Lina, Ashley Lopez as the sultry Sarraghina, Devon Griste as Diana, and Kir Kipness as Clara. It's a terrific cast.

The set by Wendie and Mike Cutcher is minimal but effective. The costumes by Shannon Scheffler do an excellent job of communicating personality. The music, directed and conducted by Colin Burdge, and the choreography by Michelle Eiland are both lovely.

While I may have cringed a few times through the misogyny of the sometimes-egotistic and sometimes-hapless Guido, I thoroughly enjoyed the quality of this production.

Nine, through August 26, 2018, at Musical Theatre Southwest, 6320 Domingo Rd. NE, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Sunday at 2:00 pm. General admission is $22. For seniors, students, and ATG members, admission is $20. For reservations, call 505-265-9119 or purchase online at