Nine | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Nine, Circle Theatre. Maury Yeston must have had fun composing the music and lyrics for Nine, based on Federico Fellini's film 8 1/2. Revolving around a famous film director (not unlike Fellini) facing a midlife crisis, it features German-style songs ("The Germans at the Spa"), French ("Folies Bergeres"), and Italian ("Ti Voglio Bene") as well as baroque-harmony choruses a la Handel, mock operas a la Rossini, and a few sweet, torchy pop ballads.

Squeezing the show's 22 women and two men (one preadolescent) onto Circle Theatre's 20-by-25-foot stage presents a challenge. But after 13 years as Circle's resident music man, Kevin Bellie must know his dimensions to the last square inch. His staging is amply supplied with polkas, tarantellas, and cancans delivered by an all-ages, all-sizes army of odalisques, resplendent in industrial-strength underwear and an array of fem-glam finery designed by Jeffrey Kelly.

Anchoring Arthur Kopit's minimal book is James Finnerty as the filmmaker on the verge of a Freudian burnout, with sturdy supporting work from Pamela Turlow, Marie Goodkin, Marilyn Bielby, Makeba Pace, and Belinda Belk as his long-suffering wife, mother, mistress, producer, and leading lady respectively. The evening may look more like a drill-team marching exercise than an intimate journey through the male mind, but at least this scrumptious bonbon of a show never skimps on the spectacle.

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