Gettelfinger was the understudy for the part, which was to have been taken over by TV star Jenna Elfman of Dharma and Greg fame; Jane Krakowski, who originated the role in this production, won a Tony Award for her performance. Last week, word began to circulate that Elfman would not be joining the show now, as originally planned, and that her Broadway debut would be delayed in order to give her more rehearsal time. Gettelfinger's first performance as Carla was on October 7.
Nine has recently seen cast changes in most of its major roles, with John Stamos replacing Antonio Banderas as Guido Contini, Eartha Kitt replacing Chita Rivera as Liliane La Fleur, Rebecca Luker replacing Laura Benanti as Claudia, and Marni Nixon replacing Mary Beth Peil as Guido's mother. Mary Stuart Masterson continues in the role of Luisa. The production will officially reopen -- i.e., the new cast members will meet the critics -- on October 28.
A press release that was issued yesterday still seemed to imply that Elfman might join the cast at some later date. According to Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes, "With the reopening date scheduled for October 28th, Ms. Elfman would not have had a proper preview period performing the role of Carla. We hope to have the opportunity to work with Ms. Elfman at a date that is mutually beneficial." The role of Carla involves two solo songs, "A Call From the Vatican" and "Simple." Elfman's departure has led to speculation that she didn't actually audition for the part but a production spokesman says that she did, although he couldn't say exactly what that audition consisted of.
Elfman was quoted in the press release as saying that "Nine has a very beautiful, complex, and challenging score and I want to make sure that I have enough time to prepare so that I can deliver the quality of performance as a professional that I demand of myself. Being on Broadway is a dream of mine and if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it when it's right and I'm ready."
"Any company member preparing for Nine and the demands of an eight show week is entitled to be protected by realistic rehearsal time," said David Leveaux, director of the Roundabout production. "The recent circumstances of Jenna's current working schedule made it uncomfortably tight for her satisfaction and mine to open in the show immediately, so she and I agreed to find a later moment for her to join us. She is a major actress, and as such has even higher standards for herself than many might demand of her. I think her decision this time around was as typically responsible as it was deeply thought through, and is a measure of her seriousness. Her work with us so far has been absolutely exhilarating and of course we look forward to welcoming her into Nine at a moment that feels right to her."
Nine has a book by Arthur Kopit, music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. The musical was based on the Federico Fellini film 8½ as adapted from the Italian by Mario Fratti. The Roundabout production received two Tony Awards, three Drama Desk Awards, and three Outer Critics Circle Awards. It began previews on March 21 and opened officially on April 10 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.
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