Rob Marshall nabs A-list talent for musical
Can lightning strike twice? Rob Marshall, who took the seemingly unfilmable Broadway musical “Chicago” to Oscar-winning heights in 2002, is expected by many to do the same for “Nine,” the Tony-winning musical adaptation of Federico Fellini’s semiautobiographical “8½.”“Nine,” slated for a November release, stars Daniel Day-Lewis as fictional ’60s Italian cinema icon Guido Contini in the throes of midlife crisis, along with a bevy of Oscar-winning actresses who alternately attract and plague him, including Marion Cotillard (his wife), Penelope Cruz (his mistress), Judi Dench (his producer), Nicole Kidman (his star) and Sophia Loren (his mother). Kate Hudson (an American journalist) rounds out the cast. “Nine” composer-lyricist Maury Yeston was realistic about handing his baby over to the movies. “It was incredibly important to understand that film is a director’s art, that (Marshall) be able to adapt this stage musical and make a film independent of an overcontrolling Broadway author looking over his shoulder,” he concedes. “That’s the very first thing I said to Rob.” Still, the film offered Yeston another chance to extend his lifelong obsession with Fellini’s classic. He began working on the musical in 1973, won a Tony for its score in 1982 and tinkered with it for the 2003 Broadway revival. Having worked with Raul Julia in the original and Antonio Banderas in the revival, he was especially aware of “the impact of what some of the casting choices might be on the score.” The result was three new songs:
- “Guarda la Luna” (Look at the Moon), sung by Loren. “We were lucky enough to have someone who was part of that great period of Italian cinema, who knew Fellini, who knew Marcello Mastroianni (Guido in the Fellini film),” Yeston says. So he tailored a lullaby specifically for Loren’s voice (but based the melody on the song “Nine” from the Broadway score).
- “Cinema Italiano,” for Hudson as a Vogue writer in Rome to interview the director. “Italian movies also communicated lifestyle and fashion for the world,” Yeston says, so Hudson sings and dances to a number with “a retro feel, elements of ’60s pop” that is designed to illustrate to younger audiences how important Italian cinema was in that era.
- “Take It All,” originally written as a trio for Kidman, Cruz and Cotillard but, just before shooting, rearranged as a solo for Cotillard, according to music supervisor Matt Sullivan. “Heart-wrenching” is how Yeston describes the performance by Cotillard (who won an Oscar playing Edith Piaf).