Review Roundup: Atlantis Productions' NINE, Now thru Oct 7

Manila, Philippines, September 24, 2012 - Prolific theater company Atlantis Productions Inc.'s VIPs, Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga, have been running in the fast lane lately: Both had to fly out to Singapore to direct and prepare to open Tony-winning musical "Avenue Q" at Marina Bay Sands over the weekend, just a few days after they premiered another Tony-winning musical, "Nine," last Friday night at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium.

Winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, "Nine," features music and lyrics by Maury Yeston - "Be Italian," "Unusual Way" are the most familiar songs from the show - and book by Arthur Kopit.

"Nine" was inspired by the life and times of one of Italy's most celebrated filmmakers, Federico Fellini (1920-1983), and his semi-autobiographical, comedy-drama film, "8 ½."

In the musical, Guido Contini, an Italian movie director, is facing a mid-life crisis, some pressure to score a new hit movie (after several box office flops), and numerous demands of the many women in his life.

Jett Pangan plays Contini; Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo plays Contini's devoted wife, Luisa; Cherie Gil plays the filmmaker's producer, Liliane Le Fleur; Eula Valdez plays the movie director's favorite leading lady and muse, Claudia Nardi; Carla Guevara-Laforteza plays Contini's psycho-neurotic mistress Carla Albanese; Ima Castro plays prostitute Sarraghina; Sitti Navarro plays the Lady of the Spa; Yanah Laurel plays film critic, Stephanie Necrophorus; Joy Glorioso plays Contini's deceased mother; Mikkie Bradshaw, Reg Claraval, Princess Virtudazo, and Japs Treopaldo play Contini's avid fans; and Warren David Saga and Ethan Paras alternate as nine-year-old Contini. 

The local production takes pride in flying in Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo ("Memphis" "Mountaintop") to work on the show's scenic design, which early reviews refer to as "vast, grandiose, and elaborate."

Read what theater critics have been writing about Atlantis Productions' "Nine" below.

Vladimir Bunoan, Indeed, watching film and TV actress Cherie Gil steal the show with her bombastic number "Follies Bergere" may be already worth the price of admission. Playing a demanding film producer who insists on coming up with a movie musical, Gil's powerful stage presence, with a French accent to boot, could have easily put the production off balance, particularly when she emerged in sexy showgirl outfit, showing off her fine form. Her husky voice provided an earthy contrast to the glorious sopranos of her co-actresses.

But the magic of Atlantis' "Nine" is that despite Gil's show-stopping number, the others all managed to shine.

TV and film actress Eula Valdez, who cut short her stint on the top-rating soap "Walang Hanggan" to do "Nine," was the evening's revelation as the film star Claudia, Contini's muse. Valdez's beauty and presence were also immediately felt, even when performing in the ensemble numbers. Taking on the musical's hauntingly beautiful "Unusual Way," Valdez hit notes you never thought she was capable of, showing studied technique and control. Her recitation of her goodbye letter to Contini was heartbreaking in its sincerity.

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