Previewed 8 October 1992, Opened 20 October 1992, Closed 17 July 1993 at the Shaftesbury Theatre
Harold Prince's production of John Kander and Fred Ebb's new musical Kiss Of The Spider Woman in London starring Bebe Neuwirth
"And the curtain will shake, and the fire will hiss, here comes her kiss" - Two prisoners find compassion and courage to come to see the world through each other's eyes.
Manuel Puig's powerful novel has been acclaimed by a worldwide audience, first as a stage play, then in 1985 as an Oscar-winning film. Now it finds a breathtaking musical dimension with the legendary creative team of Terrence Mc Nally, Fred Ebb, John Kander and Hal Prince.
Cast, from Monday 29 March 1993, features Bebe Neuwirth as 'Aurora' the Spider Woman with Jeff Hyslop as 'Molina', Charles Pistone as 'Valentin' and Clarke Peters as 'Warden'. Musical based on the novel by Manuel Puig, with book by Terrence McNally, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Directed by Harold Prince with choreography by Vincent Paterson, choreography for Aurora's movie sequences by Rob Marshall, set and projections by Jerome Sirlin, costumes by Florence Klotz, lighting by Howell Binkley and sound by Martin Levan. The original cast, from Thursday 8 October 1992 to Saturday 27 March 1993, featured Chita Riveria as 'Aurora' the Spider Woman, Brent Carver as 'Molina', Anthony Crivello as 'Valentin' and Herndon Lackey as 'Warden'.
"This is a fable about aspects of courage, the alchemy of love and the seductive power of fantasy. It is destined to be one of the great musicals. If you see nothing else new in the West End, you must see this thrilling piece of theatre. Phantom of the Opera director Harold Prince is joined by Cabaret composers Kander and Ebb in the £2.5 million British premiere of a musical that stages one stunning coup ae theatre after another.... Brent Carver has devastating poignancy as the homosexual window-dresser who endures the brutality of South American imprisonment by shooting imaginary movies... The melodic ballad Dear One deserves to become a standard." The Daily Express
"Kiss Of The Spiderwoman at London's Shaftesbury Theatre is a queer sort of musical. The hero is a homosexual window dresser sharing a cell with a macho revolutionary in a brutal South American prison. The climax comes when he blows his brains out to music. The limp wristed comedy mixes uneasily with the grim drama but there are some show stopping numbers and memorable moments including the amazing sight of original West Side Story star Chita Rivera pushing 60 and still strutting her stuff like a woman half her age. Camp it maybe but a gay night out it certainly isn't." The Daily Mirror
"Manuel Puig's novel concerns the affection that warily burgeons between two men, one a homosexual window-dresser, the other a dour revolutionary, in a South American prison within whose bloodstained cellars horrible things occur. And as anyone who has tottered wet-eyed from Spiderwoman the movie will not need reminding, it ends in a way even Sweeney Todd and Les Miserables do not... With Chita Rivera clambering down towering grey prison bars in her cobweb-covered bodysuit, and striking tantalisingly arachnoid attitudes behind the protagonists, there is no lack of spectacle. But again and again the proscenium arch shrinks, those bars dwindle to a single cell, and Brent Carver's Molina and Anthony Crivello's Valentin hold the stage. Each gives the kind of unshowy but emotionally true performance seldom found in musicals... The fantasies into which Molina helps Valentin escape are often a bit cursory. Suddenly Rivera, who plays his ideal dream-woman throughout, appears in pink furs, or a purple gown, or green-yellow feathers, leaping about an exotic rainforest with energetic Indians. She is able to make a bit more of a Russian torch-singer who dies defending her revolutionary lover, and still more of the omnipresent spiderwoman, symbol of the ultimate escape, death... Kander and Ebb's songs do not always rise to the emotional occasion, though they are capable of some lively Latin American pastiche, some sweetly sour love songs and the occasional burst of driving, dissonant anger. But their integrity and courage are not in doubt. This is a show that sacrifices neither a serious subject to entertainment nor entertainment to a serious subject: a feat to respect and enjoy." The Times
Kiss of the Spider Woman in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre previewed from 8 October 1992, opened on 20 October 1992 and closed on 17 July 1993