Who is Guido? I ask the women of NINE

Podium Concert Productions, who will be presenting Nine in Concert January 12-13 describe the show this way:

Based on Italian director Federico Fellini’s comic masterpiece of biographical filmmaking, 8 1/2, Maury Yeston’s sultry and enchanting musical Nine follows the life of world-famous film director Guido Contini as he prepares his latest picture and balances the numerous women in his life. Contini is dreading his imminent 40th birthday and facing a midlife crisis, which is blocking his creative impulses and entangling him in a web of romantic difficulties in early-1960s Venice. Contini is also, after recent box office failures, drifting toward a nervous breakdown from which he is held back only by the support of his wife, Luisa. As his sanity disintegrates, he drifts into nostalgic reverie, eventually focusing on the formative sexual encounter of his life, which occurred at the age of nine.

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Nine is a unique study of one obsessive man and the women surrounding him. He might remind you of Federico Fellini, just as Nine might remind you of his film 8 ½. After interviewing Juan Chioran, who plays Guido Contini I thought it might be fun to turn the process on its head, asking the women about Guido.

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Kira Guloien portrays Carla Albanese

A-Who are you (who are you) and
B-What is your relationship to Italian film director Guido Contini?

CARLA (Kira Guloien: Doctor Zhivago (Broadway), Mrs. Walker in Tommy (Stratford), Young Edie in Grey Gardens (Acting Upstage)):
A) My name is Carla Albanese and I am a romantic, playful, hot-blooded and highly emotional woman. Sadly, I am married to a nice man named Luigi who leaves me feeling terribly bored and unsatisfied. I believe that life should be full of passion and that love (and love-making) makes the world go round.

B) I am Guido’s lover and future wife. I am his confidante, best friend and the person he comes to when he needs rejuvenation.

LILIANE (Rebecca Poff: Showboat (Broadway and 1st National Tour), Phantom (Livent)):
A) Liliane LaFleur. A former star and then owner of The Folies Bergeres in Paris. She is now a mature woman who is a producer, lives in Paris and has currently signed Guido to produce a movie musical. She is tough, experienced, sharp, worldly, wealthy, talented and famous and still has a twinkle in her eye.
B) I do not know Guido well, but I do know his work. I thought he would be the perfect director for a film that the world needs now…..a Movie Musical to save us from the current trend of existentialism in film direction. As the story progresses she realizes that he is in crisis and may very well not even be able to complete the project as he has not even completed the script

MAMMA (Barbara Mantini: Featured Soprano with numerous symphonies. 20 years with The Mantini Sisters)
A) I am Guido’s mother
B)- I appear in flash backs of Guido’s life and as a vision

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Tracy Michailidis portrays Luisa Contini

LUISA (Tracy Michailidis: Beauty and The Beast (Broadway), Fun Home (Broadway National Tour)):
A) Luisa, Guido’s wife.
B) I was an actress. Now, I’m his PR person.

Who is Guido Contini?

CARLA: The greatest filmmaker in the entire world. The greatest lover in the entire world. He can be playful, childish and sensitive yet macho, virile and masculine. He has an intense hunger for physical affection, which I am always happy to provide.

LILIANE: Guido is an artistic visionary whose creative voice not only entertains, but also inspires and moves his moviegoers.

MAMMA: My son Guido is a film maker. But, I don’t really understand what his films are about, there is no real plot that I can make out, and they always seem to be full of sex and women. That makes it difficult to talk about them with my friends and family

LUISA:He is a child in a grown man’s body who needs external validation constantly to survive. He is also the love of my life.

Why is Guido here at the spa?

CARLA: Guido is very stressed and he needed some time away from the pressure of his producer and his wife. I suppose she decided to follow him here, unfortunately. He, of course, will be very relieved if I pop by for a surprise rendezvous. I always know how to relax him, and we will brainstorm ideas for his film together. I am one of the only people he has told about his new film… his wife doesn’t even know about it.

rebecca-poff

Rebecca Poff portrays Liliane La Feur

LILIANE: Guido told me he is at the spa to scout a location for this film, but I have my doubts about that.

MAMMA: Guido needs a break from working so hard.

LUISA: He’s finding himself; isn’t that what they call it?

What does Guido need to do in his next film?

CARLA: Guido obviously needs to make a come back from his last few flops. The problem is that he hasn’t been living a truthful life. To make good art, you must be truthful. Guido needs to be brave, put his needs first, leave Luisa and follow his heart (to me) in order to free himself to create another masterpiece.

LILIANE: In short, Guido needs to triumph. His last three films were flops and he needs to redeem himself.

MAMMA: Perhaps if he created a film that everyone could enjoy with their families and friends. A movie about life…something that makes you feel good at the end of it.

LUISA: Perhaps if he had a complete and utter breakdown he would stop chasing other women. Perhaps he would see me standing next to him, as I have been, all these years.

If I promise that Guido Contini reads this, what would you tell him?

CARLA: Guido, my divorce will be final very soon. Then we can get married and you will see that I will be an incredibly supportive wife. I will never, ever judge you for prioritizing your art. If you choose love, everything else will fall into place. I promise.

LILIANE: Get your shit together or else I will destroy you.

barbara-mantini

Barbara Mantini portrays Guido’s Mother

MAMMA: I would tell him to shape up and start behaving like a real man. Take care of his wife, be there for her, raise a family. Not make these terrible films that in the end will destroy him and his marriage. There is more to life than public attention and money.

LUISA: I would tell him that his wife is smarter than he thinks.

What song do you sing?

CARLA: “A Call from the Vatican” shows that Guido and I know how to have a really good time together. We have chemistry that he doesn‘t have with anyone else, and I never get upset when he comes to be tired and overworked. I LOVE tending to his every need and by the time I am done with him, he always feels like a million dollars.

LILIANE: My song is “Folies Bergeres”. It is an homage to the life of beauty and spectacle that exists inside the club. It is about a place where magic and love is always possible and where joy abounds and human frailties are forgotten. Somewhere during the song, it becomes a flashback and Liliane is once again the star of the show and is holding the audience in the palm of her hand and loving every moment of it. Perhaps she is trying somewhat to convince Guido that her vision for the film is right, but in the end she is a woman who knows what she wants and what she values and she will make it happen.

MAMMA: I sing the song “Nine”. I love and cherish my son. He was my ninth child, ninth son and also the ninth grandchild in the family. So, when he turned nine, we celebrated him and his future. But, after his ninth birthday something happened that changed his behaviour.

LUISA: I sing two songs; “My Husband Makes Movies”, and “Be On Your Own”. The first is sung about my husband, and the second is sung to him. The first one is sung to the press, and the second is personal; just me and him. I am alone with or without him. I still love him, but my own self-preservation is threatening to break, so I must leave. Or, first, I must sing.
From the recent film adaptation:

Why are you the one who knows Guido best?

CARLA: Our love is the best thing for his art. The fire between us ignites his creativity and I am able to strip away all of this outer layers until I expose the vulnerable artist that lies within. Then, he tells me everything. Guido is completely and utterly Guido when he is with me.

LILIANE: Not applicable

MAMMA: I raised Guido from birth. I know his soul. But, he has been so distracted with life that he hides his real self from the world.

LUISA: Because I swore I would love him for better or for worse. Because I’ve seen him weak and ugly, mute and in despair. And I still love him.

MAMMA:…this show is full of beautiful music and tells the story of my beloved son… THANK YOU

*****

NINE in Concert will be presented at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre for the Arts on January 12 and 13, 2018. A world-class orchestra of 23 musicians, hand-picked and led by Mark Camilleri, will accompany 15 of Canada’s brightest stars of stage and musical theatre and an ensemble of rising stars from Etobicoke School of The Arts. Further information .

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