The SpeakEasy Stage Company’s current production of “Nine,” the Tony Award-winning musical, is so good you might just forget the mind-numbingly bad 2009 film adaptation.
Though the musical tale of an Italian film director’s mid-life crisis boasts a cast of 15 women, its central figure is Guido Contini, a man plagued by a seemingly insatiable appetite for women. Timothy John Smith doesn’t even vaguely resemble an Italian lothario named Guido, but his stellar vocals and passionate performance will make a believer out of you.
Local fave Aimee Doherty is superb as Guido’s long-suffering wife Luisa, making an understated yet powerful transition from victimized to empowered with little more than subtle gestures and impressive vocal prowess. Cheryl McMahon delivers an endearing turn as Guido’s mother, while Kerry Dowling brings great humor and sensuality to her dual roles as a nun and sultry Sarraghina.
In such a large and talented ensemble it’s nearly impossible to steal this show, but the always-impressive Maureen Keiller comes pretty close with her delightful portrayal of French film producer Liliane La Fleur. Keiller’s big number “Folies Bergeres” provides some much- needed oomph, a healthy dose of camp and a chance for the veteran actress to work with the biggest red boa you’ll ever see.
If you don’t leave the theater humming “Be Italian,” go back again — you’ve missed something.