FULLERTON — The program for Fullerton College's bold, sexy production of "Nine: The Musical" notes that this 99-minute adaptation of "Fellini's 8 1/2" is performed without intermission. Why no intermission?
Well, beginning with the dreamlike cha-cha-cha of the "Overture," this stream-of-consciousness story of the life and dreams of Guido Contini, famed Italian filmmaker and stallion, suggests that just as the libido never sleeps, so should the audience never rest.
It is a tribute to the heroic stamina of Danny Bolero that, as Guido, he manages to keep his interest level up throughout the performance. Of course, Guido gets considerable inspiration from his lovely, out-of-wedlock consorts, Carla Albanese (Lynda Blais) and Claudia Nardi (Diane Walsh), as well as a bevy of other beauties dressed in black.
Director Gary Krinke's achievement was to maintain a dynamic balance between the play's steady build and what expects to be an explosive conclusion that, instead, turns serene because of Guido's knack of somehow whirling dervishly about without falling over some Dionysian precipice.
The pairing of Bolero and Amanda Hudson, who plays Guido's long-suffering wife, Luisa, is an inspired piece of casting. They complement each other to a T. On one hand, there is the tremendous scope of emotion and carnivorous appetites that Bolero, with his strong, wide-ranging voice, brings to Guido. Hence, his insatiable desires ("Guido's Song"); his many affairs ("A Call From the Vatican"), phone sex with Carla, who, Guido tells his wife, is a church official; and his impassioned confession at the shambles his life has become ("The Bells of St. Sebastian").
This energy is checked, on the other hand, by the emotional depth and calm wisdom that Hudson gives her Luisa. Initially, she puts up with his philandering (her patiently exasperated "My Husband Makes Movies"; finally, though, she decides to leave him (the tender, this-hurts-me-as-much-as-it-hurts-you "Be On Your Own").
Similarly, the staging contributes to harnessing this energy. The set is as dreamlike as a Salvador Dali painting: a slightly tilted, horizonless vista tries to thwart the incursions of reality into Guido's dreams. To complement this dreamscape, lights change color at each level of consciousness and emotion. Finally, even the classical columns framing the set belie the maelstrom below.
Just as Guido is to be commended for the scope of his ambitions, so is Fullerton College for a gutsy choice that it managed to pull off, as it happens, without the interruption of an intermission.
'NINE: THE MUSICAL'
A Fullerton College Theater Arts production of the Arthur Kopit-Maury Yeston musical. Director: Gary Krinke. With Danny Bolero, Amanda Hudson, Lynda Blais, Diane Walsh, Terri Miller Schmidt, JoAnn Campanella, Aimee Feeger, Shelley Kuhl, Cindy Daytona, Phyllis Bromberg, Patti Cumby, David Ellis, Erick Mosqueda, Sean Memetz, Ryan Memetz, Tara Miller, Sheryl Whiteside, Danielle Brown, Carie Hamm, Jessica Cooper, Holly Shirley, Melissa Allison, Laurianne Liddi, Becky Wallace, Dorothy Gribben, Toni Maree Turnbull, Yelizaveta Mostsinsker, Tiffany Durham. Choreographer: Ray Limon. Musical director and conductor: Rhonda Carlson. Set designer: Gil Morales. Costume designer: Mela Hoyt-Heydon. Lighting designer: Steve Pliska. Sound designer: Brad Williams. Technical director: Steven Craig. Performances at 8 p.m. today through Saturday, 2 p.m. on Sunday in the Fullerton Campus Theater, 321 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton. Tickets: $5 to $7. (714) 871-8101.