In 1985 the movie adaptation of Manuel Puig's KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, opened at the cinemas and thanks to it William Hurt won the Oscar for Best Actor. The movie told the story of a gay man, Molina, and a politic prisoner, Valentin, who are forced to share the same prison cell. While the later is a pessimistic guy, the former lives of movie fantasies where he dreams of a great movie star. Five years later a new adaptation of Puig's work comes to live. This time as a stage musical directed by Harold Prince with a score by John Kander & Fred Ebb.




Its biggest triumph is the presence of the great Chita Rivera in two roles: as the movie star and as the Spider Woman. When she's on stage is very difficult to pay attention to anything else. As Molina, Brent Craver is perfect, but Anthony Crivello, as Valentin, didn't convince me.

There are a couple of terrific dance numbers where Rivera shines and the score by Kander & Ebb, although it isn't their best work, is highly enjoyable and its Latin sounds are perfect for the Latin American setting. The sets are fabulous with a brilliant work of light that works miracles on stage.

Music  by
John Kander

Lyrics by
Fred Ebb

Book by
Terrence McNally

Choreography by Vincent Paterson and Rob Marshall

  Directed by
Harold Prince

On the lesser side this show it too politic for my taste, but Prince choose to accentuate the fantasy side and somehow things work. Anyway, I think the show only started to deliver its goods after the "Dressing Them Up" number. At the beginning things are too slow and, sometimes, heavily handled.

Among the musical numbers the best ones are the funny "Morphine Tango", danced around Molina by several gay male nurses, the highly emotional "Dear One", sung by the two prisoners and their loved ones, the rousing "The Day After That" and the delicious and personal favorite "Dressing Them Up". The highlight of the show is the Russian film sequence, with Rivera singing and having "Good Times".

Photos by Catherine Ashmore, Donald Cooper, Michael Cooper and Shin Sugino

Rated by Jorge: +++