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Theatre UCF opens its showing of the musical Nine at the university theater's Main Stage Thursday at 8 p.m.

Nine follows the exploits of Italian film director Guido Contini, played by sophomore acting major Stephen Rochet, as he struggles to emerge from a mid-life crisis and complete his latest film. Along the way, Contini's many lies and infidelities threaten his marriage, his career and even his soul.

"When I first read the script, I was terrified," Rochet said. "I had no idea how anyone could like this guy. Guido has been married before and he's had several mistresses and other women [in his life].

"He's been so passionate about his career that now his life is total chaos. He can't balance his personal life with his craft and he's about to lose both. He becomes almost deranged."

The play is unique in that, of the production's 27 roles, Contini is the only adult male character. The remainder of the cast is filled by an ensemble of women who have loved — or been loved by — Contini and four young boys who represent Contini at different stages of his life.

"This is a unique opportunity that you don't get a lot in musical theater," said Earl Weaver, the play's director. "Every role is like a lead role, so the entire cast has to work as a unit. [There] are 22 women in the cast — almost 40 if you include their understudies — so the scale of the production is just huge."

Heather Gibson, director of marketing for Theatre UCF, said that Nine was chosen out of a number of potential scripts because it enabled a large number of students to appear in a theater production.

"We try to do two musicals that complement each other every year from two different periods," Gibson said. "This year we did the Kiss of the Spider Woman in the fall, which is a very heavy male production. Nine has one lead male with a lot of women to round it out.

"This gives all of our students a chance to participate in a production."

Nine runs from March 19 through March 29. Tickets are $20 standard, $18 for seniors and $10 for students.

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Bernard Wilchusky is Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @facilesweateror email him at BernardW@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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