The women don't walk; they saunter. PUP's upcoming production of "Nine," directed and choreographed by Eamon Foley ’15, features some of the best singing and dancing recently seen on the Princeton stage — and quite a bit of thigh. It is a story told visually, with a never-ending supply of Kodak-ready tableaux, about the life of famous Italian film director and casanova Guido Contini, played by Matt Seely ’14, and the women who love him.
This is a production all about sex. The women are, most of the time, dressed in various forms of sheer black and white satin, lace and leather, with an occasional sequin thrown in for good measure. It's also a production that is about women, perhaps more than it is about Guido. We see these women through the eyes of Guido; we are meta-voyeurs, watching him watch these women through his camera. The only problem is that Guido's point of view tends to be a bit simple. He sings, "There are two kinds of women. One was a whore, one was a wife," and that theme is played out on stage: Foley goes so far as to color-code women in either black or white, depending on their status in this dichotomy. This dramatically impacts the play by simplifying and blurring the desires of these very different women and making it less understandable why they let themselves be abused and objectified by this gallant philanderer. This leaves the audience unsure what to think or how to feel at some critical moments of the story.
But what the play lacks in clarity it makes up for in showmanship. The musical numbers are vastly inventive and executed with tremendous technique and precision. The opening number is a jaw-dropper, and the remaining company numbers continue in that trend. There is no shortage of standout performers; the leading man, Seely, has precisely the Italian, sexy, but also a little gross allure of Guido. Jillian Stein ’13 as Carla, one of Guido's favorite mistresses, stripteases her way to great applause. Savannah Hankinson ’13 is hilarious as Guido's less-than-amused producer, Liliane La Fleur, and perfectly captures the spirit of burlesque in her number, an ode to the "Follies Bergeres." Michaela Milgrom ’16 as the village prostitute of Guido's youth gives Fergie, who played the role in the film version, a run for her money.
No doubt, however, local child actor Matthew Immordino steals the show as the Young Guido. Not only is he adorable, but his penultimate number, about the challenges of growing up and "getting tall," is easily the most heartbreaking moment of the show.
Ultimately, this is a show to see. Fortunately and unfortunately, advanced sales have it near sold out, but there are still some tickets left. Spoiler alert: If nothing else, getting a quick flash of Seely's butt is worth the price of admission.
4 out of 5 paws
Pros: Wonderful musical numbers.
Cons: Rough depictions of women.