Saturday, September 27, 2008

Review - Kiss of the Spider Woman

Kiss of the Spider Woman
book by Terrence McNally; music and lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb
directed by Nick DeGruccio
choreographed by Lee Martino
Bootleg Theatre
through October 26
Frequently described as a cross between steel and gossamer, Kander and Ebb's musical of Manuel Puig's mind-boggling Kiss of the Spider Woman is nothing short of breathtaking when properly produced. In the hands of the Havoc Theatre Company, Kiss receives a magnificent mounting: staging, ensemble, set and costumes are all flawless.
Dealing with reality versus illusion (steel, for prison bars and gossamer, the feminine side of Molina's mind), the play adapts perfectly to musical form, where Molina (Chad Borden) and his troupe play out Aurora's (Terra C. Macleod) screen life through song and dance. In fact, I've always found the musical more intriguing than the play also because of the omnipresent operatic themes of love, passion, violence and betrayal.
Borden is Molina to the core, sensitive, yet with a complicated inner strength. His movements are graceful down to his fingertips. This is Borden's finest hour. Macleod makes an exotic Spider Woman, the beautiful and mysterious temptress. Reminding one of the original star Chita Rivera, especially when she sings so seductively, she is the ideal fit. Daniel Tatar as Valentin is ferociously committed and compassionate. The supporting team of 11 actors are all terrific, outstanding among them Eileen Barnett as Molina's saintly mother. The six dancers/prisoners are rhythmically riveting: Oskar Rodriguez, Salvatore Vassallo, Shell Bauman, Hector Guerrero, Jeffrey Parsons and Mike A. Motroni. Whether in motion via Martino's brilliant choreography, or mischievously subdued in the discomfort of their own cells, they are amazing to behold!
Tom Buderwitz' big open set encompassing both the jail and just about any place Molina's imagination cares to go, Steven Young's dreamlike lighting design and Anne Kennedy's lavish costumes in shades of black, gray and purple for Aurora add tremendously to the nightmarish/surreal quality of the piece. What a rich production! McNally, Kander and Ebb are Tony winning geniuses and thankfully Nick DeGruccio and company remain loyal to the dark complexities and simple beauty of their original work. Bravo!
5 out of 5 stars+


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