By Dino Dela Rosa
When â€œKiss Of The Spider Womanâ€ premiered on Broadway years ago, it won seven Tony awards, including best musical. Created by the legendary songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb(â€œCabaret,â€ â€œChicagoâ€), it ran for more than 900 performances. This show is part of the Kander-Ebb celebration at the Signature Theatre launched by Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. â€œKiss Of The Spider Woman” tells of an unlikely friendship between a window dresser Molina(Hunter Foster) and a Marxist Revolutionary Valentin (Will Chase). To pass his time in prison, Valentin conjures up his favorite screen actress, a â€˜40s B-movie diva named Aurora(Natascia Diaz) through song and dance numbers.
Broadway vet Hunter Foster, memorable on Broadway â€œUrinetownâ€ years ago, is back as Valentin. He was last seen in the Kennedy Center production of â€œMister Roberts.â€ He is simply a marvel as Valentin, he has powerhouse vocals and a commanding presence. He infuses his role with humor and camp. Molinaâ€™s foray into celluloid make these moments captivating for him and the audience. And when belting out â€œDear One,â€ â€œSheâ€™s A Woman,â€ and â€œOnly In The Movies,â€ he is positively mesmerizing.
Another Broadway vet Will Chase( â€œAidaâ€ and â€œMiss Saigonâ€) is superb as Valentin, his spine-tingling rendition of â€œThe Day After Thatâ€ is one of the highlights of the show and one that will still be remembered for days. Natascia Diaz is both lovely and pitch perfect as Aurora aka the Spiderwoman. She successfully conveys the essence of a B-movie siren. She is at her best when belting out the sultry numbers, â€œGimme Love,â€ â€œI Do Miracles,” and the title song.
A noteworthy mention to Set Designer Adam Koch for the stark prison set which is complemented by Chris Leeâ€™s vibrant lighting. Also to the splendid 10-piece orchestra headed by Jon Kalbfleisch and Karma Campâ€™s vibrant choreography.
â€œKiss Of The Spider Womanâ€ is a great kick-off to the Kander-Ebb celebration. For four decades, John Kander and Fred Ebb has created some of the greatest Broadway musicals. In 1965, the pair first worked on their first Broadway show â€œFlora, The Red Menaceâ€ with Liza Minnelli in her Broadway debut.
â€œKiss Of The Spider Womanâ€ directed by Eric Schaeffer, Music by John Kander and Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Book by Terrence Mcnally. Till April 20. Choreography, Karma Camp, Costumes, Anne Kennedy, Musical Director, Jon Kalbfleisch, Lighting, Chris Lee.
With Steven Cupo, Christopher Bloch, Erin Driscoll, Channez McQuay.
2 and a 1/2 hours
Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.
703- 820-9771 or visit www.signature-theatre.org.