Karen Akers, in an interview with Playbill On-Line's "Diva Talk" columnist Andrew Gans, said Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio would star in the new Roundabout Theatre Company Broadway revival of Nine, playing the part Akers played in the original production, Luisa Contini.
"I love their choices of people," Akers said of the Roundabout and director David Leveaux. "The person playing my role is Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. I've always thought that she was a very special performer. She's actually got a very sweet voice. And, Raul [Julia]'s part is being played by Antonio Banderas. I don't know about his singing, but I imagine that if they chose him, he can sing. It should be interesting. I'm going to sneak in some day [and see it]."
Akers comments echoed speculation in the theatre community about Mastrantonio's casting. The film actress won widespread praise for her turn as Viola in a Central Park staging of Twelfth Night a decade ago. Her movies include "The Color of Money," "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and "The Abyss."
Nine has music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and a book by Arthur Kopit. It first opened at the 46th Street Theatre on May 9, 1982, under the direction of Tommy Tune, who also did the choreography along with Thommie Walsh.
The show was the brainchild of Yeston, who loved the Fellini film, about Guido Contini, a stalled Italian film director experiencing a career crisis. Tune filled the show with dreamlike stage images, establishing his reputation as a musical theatre director driven by arresting visions and stage pictures. Tune also came up with the idea of surrounding the director hero with female characters, making star Raul Julia the only adult male in the show. Among the women were Akers as Guido's wife, Liliane Montevecchi as his French producer, Shelly Burch as his leading actress and Anita Morris as his mistress. The buxom Morris owned what was perhaps the most sensational moment in the musical, singing "A Phone Call from the Vatican" in nothing but a body suit.
Nine went on to play 732 performances and win the Tony Award for best musical. The show helped establish Julia as a bankable star.
No casting has been announced for the revival at this time.
—By Robert Simonson