Back in late November, rumor was already spreading that film star Antonio Banderas was being sought for the role of Guido Contini, film director and chic magnet, in a Roundabout Theatre Company revival of the Tony-winning musical, Nine. Now, according to Variety, the casting is a fact, with Banderas set to take the role in the Maury Yeston-Arthur Kopit-Mario Fratti tuner based on Fellini's autobiographical film "8 1/2."
Initial reports had the show arriving on Broadway in spring 2003, but that's apparently been pushed forward to January 2003. Roundabout spokesperson Adrian Bryan-Brown confirmed (Jan. 25) that rehearsals for Nine begin in January, but there was "no comment" on either casting or where the production would take place.
Nine 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 Karen 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 flesh-colored 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. Word in the community has Antonio Banderas up for the lead in the revival, but no casting has been announced at this time. Leveaux is the director behind such Broadway successes as Anna Christie starring Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson and Electra starring Zoe Wanamaker. Last year, he was set to direct Mary-Louise Parker in a Roundabout mounting of O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms. But Parker opted to remain with Proof and the project was abandoned. The director piloted Nine first at the Donmar Warehouse.
In November 2001, Variety mentioned that Nine might open at Studio 54, the home of the hit Roundabout revival of Cabaret. At the 2001 Tony ceremony, Natasha Richardson — who created the role of Sally Bowles in the long running revival — said that she may return to close the show sometime in 2002. Richardson spoke in the press room of the 2001 Tony Awards. She added that Cabaret has not set a closing date and that talks were ongoing. At the moment, Cabaret has received a shot in the arm from good re-reviews and audience interest in the most recent Sally, Molly Ringwald.