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A masterful production

By Dino Dela RosaBy Dino Dela Rosa
When “Kiss Of The Spider Woman” 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(“Cabaret,” “Chicago”), 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. “Kiss 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 ‘40s B-movie diva named Aurora(Natascia Diaz) through song and dance numbers.

Broadway vet Hunter Foster, memorable on Broadway “Urinetown” years ago, is back as Valentin. He was last seen in the Kennedy Center production of “Mister Roberts.” He is simply a marvel as Valentin, he has powerhouse vocals and a commanding presence. He infuses his role with humor and camp. Molina’s foray into celluloid make these moments captivating for him and the audience. And when belting out “Dear One,” “She’s A Woman,” and “Only In The Movies,” he is positively mesmerizing.

Another Broadway vet Will Chase( “Aida” and “Miss Saigon”) is superb as Valentin, his spine-tingling rendition of “The Day After That” 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, “Gimme Love,” “I Do Miracles,” and the title song.

A noteworthy mention to Set Designer Adam Koch for the stark prison set which is complemented by Chris Lee’s vibrant lighting. Also to the splendid 10-piece orchestra headed by Jon Kalbfleisch and Karma Camp’s vibrant choreography.

“Kiss Of The Spider Woman” 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 “Flora, The Red Menace” with Liza Minnelli in her Broadway debut.

“Kiss Of The Spider Woman” 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.

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