Atlantis Productions’ staging of the musical “Nine”, ongoing at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of RCBC Plaza in Makati City until Oct. 7, features a set designed by Tony Award-winning set designer David Gallo.
“Nine,” based on Federico Fellini’s semi-biopic “8½,” focuses on Italian filmmaker Guido Contini, who, dreading his imminent 40th birthday, gets entangled in a web of romantic difficulties in early-1960s Venice.
With book by Arthur Kopit and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, the musical was made into a movie in 2009, directed by Rob Marshall (“Chicago”) and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Contini.
Directed by Bobby Garcia, Atlantis’ “Nine” features Jett Pangan as Contini with an ensemble of popular theater actresses, recording artists, and TV/film actresses: Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo plays Contini’s wife, Cherie Gil plays his film producer, Eula Valdez plays his muse, Carla Guevara-Laforteza plays his mistress, Ima Castro plays a prostitute he encounters, and Jay Glorioso plays his mother.
Gallo met Garcia in Broadway Asia Entertainment’s touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” in the late ’00s, where he designed the set while Garcia directed. The show opened in Manila and toured several Asian countries.
“I’ve always enjoyed working in the Philippines, so naturally when he rang me asking if I was interested in working on the production of the great musical ‘Nine,’ I jumped at the chance,” Gallo says.
Based in the US, Gallo worked with Atlantis’ production staff via the Internet. “[Since] it’s become the norm to design shows almost entirely using technology, most of the things I design are communicated via the Internet. Everyone can open and share even the largest files with ease.”
The only drawback, Gallo notes, is the loss of personal interaction, though a situation that’s mediated by this familiarity with Garcia.
“Theater is a business of emotion and feeling. It’s then that having a great bond with someone such as Bobby truly pays its dividends.”
Gallo has not seen the film version and has only seen one staging “many years ago.” He emphasizes the need to “approach every project as a new beginning.”
He researched on various bath houses and spas around the world.
“I found some particularly interesting images from India, which I was then able to spin into a Viennese look. I find that capturing a feeling, a mood or style is more important than attempting to replicate a place, either real or imagined.”
“One of the interesting things about being a scenic designer is the fact that every production naturally finds its own way to a particular style.”
Costumes are designed by New York-based Filipino fashion designer Robin Tomas.
“Nine” runs until Oct. 7, at Carlos Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza Bldg., Makati. Call 8927078, 8401187 or Ticketworld at 8919999.