Monday, November 05, 2007

Tommy's Tune

Warning: this one is not for actual viewing or listening pleasure, more for curious Broadway geeks who, like me, did not see the original 1982 production of Nine (songs by Maury Yeston, written by Arthur Kopit, directed by Tommy Tune and starring Raul Julia). Someone has posted clips of a pirated video recording of a Nine performance; it looks like the description implies, and you won't really understand a word of the songs (to hear how good the songs are -- and this may well have been the last truly great Broadway score -- you'll need to get the cast album), but it's a chance to see what the production looked like.

Tommy Tune's staging was the apotheosis of the "concept" musical, where the director's ideas are the basis for the whole show. Though adapting the movie 8&1/2 into a musical was Maury Yeston's idea, when Tune signed on to direct he made the whole thing very much his own by coming up with a bunch of gimmicks: having Guido, the protagonist, as the only adult male character in the show (everyone else was a woman or a young boy); having a huge non-specific set with lots of staircases and platforms; putting everybody in all-black costumes against the bright set. In some ways it probably made the show less emotionally engaging than it could have been; but on the other hand, Tune's approach turned what could have been a weird idea for a musical into a solid hit.

The other bit of Nine-related content on YouTube is a 30-second TV commercial for the show, with the late Anita Morris. (Her first number, "A Call From the Vatican," apparently really was not allowed on TV, though it's really no worse than what you could see most nights on ABC.)

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