Nine – Director’s Notes

Nine: The Musical

Nine – Director’s Notes

“The great secret of Nine is that it took 8 1/2 and became an essay on the power of women by answering the question, “What are women to men?” And Nine tells you: they are our mothers, our sisters, our teachers, our temptresses, our judges, our nurses, our wives, our mistresses, our muses.”” – Maury Yeston

“I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t know which way to turn anymore.”

As I traverse midlife, the themes of personal and creative crisis and struggle that permeate Fellini’s masterpiece 8 ½, upon which Nine is based, are closely relatable. However, contrary to Guido, struggling to bring clarity to his vision, “I am ready”, and very pleased to present our production to you tonight.

 “I would like to have another me to travel along with myself.”

Our concept: Director and actor playing a director and actor, struggling to create and direct a film in which he’s also an actor. Stay with me now. The other actors are cast as characters in the movie in his mind, as well as the women who have informed and shaped his reality, many of whom are actors playing roles in his film – worlds within worlds here.

“I am about to enter a realm I have never dared enter before. Wish me luck!”

As I began this journey into the world(s) of Nine many months ago, I voluntarily entered a surreal, meta-theatrical experiment of life imitating art. But it wasn’t luck I needed. In this story of women in a man’s world, and a man in a world of women, what brought me through was the foresight to surround myself with the most talented, courageous, intelligent, strong, focused, and hard working group of women I could find, as well as one special boy.

To the cast – You are my heroes, you artists who give so much, taking emotional risks, opening your hearts to friends and strangers so that they might laugh, cry, cringe, reflect, love, and perhaps make a deeper human connection with themselves and their fellows. Thank you!

-Adam Sippola, Director


Give Peace a Chance Improvisations

Last night I began my concert with a 20 minute improvisation inspired by John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”.

Live Looping Bob Dylan

Who Killed Davey Moore?

Below is a cover of one of my favorite Bob Dylan tunes, Who Killed Davey Moore, performed during a live looping show I did at The Red Herring Lounge in Duluth, Minnesota, on September 27th, 2014.

I first heard this song when I was a teenager, and although I didn’t know the historical context at the time, I was impacted by Bob Dylan’s lyrics which spoke to me about a culture of violence through the story of the final fight of a boxer named Davey Moore. I continue to be affected by Dylan’s words in the way they speak to me about the culpability of our society in sustaining a violent culture, both directly and indirectly, and in challenging individuals to ask of themselves the difficult question, “Why, and what’s the reason for?” when witnessing, and even reveling in acts of violence.

Bob Dylan 1963
Bob Dylan, 1963

Bob Dylan

Before playing the song at a concert in 1964, Dylan said:

This a song about a boxer…
It’s got nothing to do with boxing, it’s just a song about a boxer really.
And, uh, it’s not even having to do with a boxer, really.
It’s got nothing to do with nothing.
But I fit all these words together…
that’s all…
It’s taken directly from the newspapers,
Nothing’s been changed…
Except for the words.

Davey Moore and Sugar Ramos
Davey Moore and Sugar Ramos

Davey Moore

In and of itself, the fact that Davey Moore, American world featherweight champion, lost his life after a match against Cuban boxer, Sugar Ramos, is sad, but not surprising, considering the inherent violence of the sport and the goal of hitting an opponent long and hard enough to knock them out. What is more tragic, in my interpretation of Dylan’s song, is contemplating the boxing arena as the arena of war, the boxers as soldiers, managers as governments, spectators as citizens, gamblers as war profiteers, and the boxing writer as the press. Dylan originally wrote and performed the song in 1963, when the Cuban Missile Crisis and the escalation of the Vietnam War were weighing on the minds of most Americans. Today, unfortunately, the metaphor resonates louder and clearer, as denial of the causes and motivations for war seems to have a firm hold on the psyche of American culture.

I perform this song to the rhythmic sound of a gas stove igniting.

Two new Live Looping videos from Adam Sippola!

Some Live Looping improvisations from performances at The Duluth Playhouse rotunda and The Red Herring Lounge.

My song “Revolution” performed at The Red Herring Lounge in Duluth, Minnesota.

My Live Looping Kickstarter Project!

Dear friends, family, supporters!

I’m excited to share my Live Looping Kickstarter Project with you! My Kickstarter Campaign lasts 40 days, starting now!

I’m planning to record a Live Looping album this fall/winter at Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth, but to do it, I need some help. Specifically, I’m asking for your assistance in 3 ways.

3 Ways to Help

  1. Donate to my Kickstarter Project here: https://www. adamsippola/adam-sippola- creates-live-looping-album-at- sacred
    My goals, vision, budget, as well as rewards for backers, are all outlined in the project video and page. If you’d just like to support me, and the rewards aren’t important to you, please consider donating any amount… even a dollar will help. Thank you!
  2. Go to my Artist Page on facebook: https://www., and if you haven’t already liked it, please do! And while you’re there, take a moment to like the Kickstarter Video.
  3. Share my project with your friends! Copy and paste the Kickstarter Video link into a facebook status update:, or, share the video directly from my facebook Artist Page. Having your support on facebook and other social media (twitter, google+ etc.) will be a HUGE factor in helping me to succeed! It’ll only take you a couple of clicks, and it will help spread the word much wider and faster than I can on my own. Also, feel free to forward this email, and to spread the word in conversation with friends, colleagues, and anyone you think my be interested in helping out.

Upcoming Performances

I’ve got several live performances coming up. If you you’re more familiar with seeing me on the musical theater stage, these are some great opportunities to check out my Live Looping music:

Thank you so much for supporting me by supporting my project! See at one of my shows.


Film Duluth Promo

Two beautiful days to film Duluth

Adam Sippola through the lens
Through the lens

This past Tuesday and Wednesday, I was fortunate to be involved in the creation of a short promotional film, sponsored by the Minnesota Film & TV Board, for the purpose of attracting film makers to create feature films in Duluth. In 48 hours we hit around a dozen locations from the decrepit halls of Nopeming Sanatorium, to the picturesque end of Park Point, with the weather cooperating with us at every turn.

Miles Hanon and Tom Livingston headed up the project, supported by Riki McManus, as well as Erik Stolhanske and Troy Parkinson of the Minnesota Film & TV Board. We were also aided by a couple of other occasional crew members, not to mention the many accommodating individuals and organizations throughout the city that gave us access to these wonderful locations. Thanks to all who were involved in this project, and I can’t wait to see the finished piece. Film Duluth!

Les Misérables in Duluth

Les Misérables at the DECC, Duluth, MN

“We have become better artists together.” ~Dorothy Danner

Les Misérables at the DECC

Last week we brought the Duluth Playhouse’s production of Les Misérables to the DECC stage in Duluth, MN, after a truly beautiful, intense, absorbing, collaborative, exhausting, and joyous rehearsal process, led by our generous, sweet and brilliantly talented director, Dorothy Danner. With the great Topaz Cooks at her side, and aided by Kate Kulas Beth Gucinski, Robert Gardner, Dirk Meyer, and many other talented designers, crew, musicians, volunteers, too numerous to name, Dottie helped to bring out the best in each and every one of us, in a manner and style that crept up on you with an understated, profound effectiveness.

Les Misérables at the DECC
Ali Littrell Finstrom (Fantine), Jennifer Campbell (Cosette), Adam Sippola (Jean Valjean), and Lucas Pastrana (Marius) in Les Misérables at the DECC in Duluth, MN.

I am deeply grateful for this experience, and while I would love to keep performing the role of Valjean for months to come, and indeed hope to have the opportunity to do so someday, I’m thankful to have been privileged to perform this show with such a devoted group of performers who poured their all into this story each day and night with such artistry, enthusiasm, and unbridled passion. As Dottie once said, “We have become better artists together.”

To those who saw the show, supporting our endeavor, thank you! You made our short run of 4 nights feel much larger, filling Symphony Hall with your applause, laughter and tears.

I hope this type of collaboration continues in Duluth, as it’s easy for patrons and participants to become so focused on one or two arts organizations, that they miss out on the wealth of creativity happening in town in different circles than they’re used to exploring. We need more of this! When we raise each other up, the heavy lifting is easier.

Peace Labyrinth

A piece of music created for use with The Peace Labyrinth, a quilt installation by Janet McTavish.


Adam Sippola sings ‘Free’ during the concert “ladders/windows” at the Teatro Zuccone in Duluth, MN. Background film & music by Adam Sippola.

A Summer Night of Sondheim – Teatro Zuccone – June 25th

Into dreams

To Music, To Family, To God

Walking Trees

Walking Trees – December 10, 2009 – Adam Sippola

When you have purchased salve enough
To coat your eyelids heavily,
Through tears you’ll see the walking trees
Which once to you were still and cold.

Remember as the water flows
Like veins of sap upon your skin,
That those without must look within
To where the salve is bought and sold.

See them waiting at the water
With their leaves that never wither.
Hidden roots beneath the river;
Intertwining veins of gold.

When you’ve been clothed in white attire
And on the land have set your feet,
And there at hand have fruit to eat
From off the branches of the trees;

Remember that within your grasp
Are many seeds, if planted right
Will bring forth spotless deeds of light.
Consider that this food is free.

Watch them bending low and kneeling.
Touch their leaves which are for healing.
Manifested roots revealing
Universal remedies.

Drink the crystal water down,
And listen to the whispering breeze.

Morning Rain

From the 2000 album “Awake”


Open – 4/6/09 – Adam Sippola

Last night I found an open area
Carved from rock, defined by loss and movement.
Piercing the veil, I climbed the spiral stair;
From the high land of promise heard the song
Of an unexpected angel with eyes
Like the sea, smiling in the freckled sun.
I came again to where I had begun,
Moving gently on strings of light and sound
To where the wet ground met the precious feet
Of a messenger seated in silence.
In life and in breath I circled above,
Lost in a song and gazing down upon
An open space, carved as a stage in time
By a raven’s wing and a word of love.

Dreams that will last

Dreams that will last – 1-15-2001 – Adam Sippola

We found ourselves walking, our feet like stone
Corridors of light breaking through onto
Tables of justice and paths of a hand
Reaching out into the twilight ahead;
Holding fast to the thread of a question.
The land was soft and bare naked relief
To a sore minded something which could be
Wise to continue with bones breathing life
Into places where we had been seated.
Sighs and thanksgiving repeated throughout
Echoed footsteps on rocks of a hillside
We spoke, asking dreams if they’d been fulfilled.
Replies were few under still water-ways
Where many gathered to sing certitude
Into their hearts, not knowing which key to
Use on doors so wide and high, knocking hard
Like the gavel the nightmare before last
The day so long side in that storm of war.
Taking time, moving quickly away from
Much more than continuing can tell to
Do service, and speak to their souls about
Dreams that will last until something is right.