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lutherboston [ALL REVIEWERS]
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Onstage Atlanta, Inc.1
Average Rating Given : 4.00000
Reviews in Last 6 months :

Kiss of the Spider Woman, by Terrence McNally; Music and Lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb
Amazing performances
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
I will start off by confessing that I had some reservations about Onstage Atlanta's ability to pull off this daring musical, even under the direction of the same team which made Urinetown such a hit last season. While some technical aspects of the show were lacking, each and every performance in this show is top-notch.

Greg Poulos, Clay Causey and Ricardo Aponte have found a fine ensemble cast for this show. My only complaint is that with so few people involved, there wasn't much of a "chorus" to fill-up the stage during the big numbers, i.e. "The Day After That".

(Granted, there wasn't much stage left to fill-up due to the fact that the prison cell was very large and constantly on stage. I feel that if the cell had been mobile, the production value as a whole would have been better).

But even with such a small group of singers, the sound they were able to create was quite powerful. I'm going to assume here this is where the sound designer stepped in and worked some magic. Even with the minor glitches that go along with using live mics, the sound from the band and singers was pretty amazing.

Sims Lamason in the dual role of "Aurora/Spider Woman" was quite impressive. She's definitely got the looks and the moves for this role. Plus, I've always felt that "Aurora" should be portrayed by a younger woman, due to the fact that she is idolized by a gay man. I think the older you cast this role, the less believable it becomes. Lamason was also able to sing the role well. It's a tough part vocally for any woman--written in a tenor's range. The fact that she was the only performer wearing a microphone in the show didn't bother me in the least. Her character is the only one in the show who isn't "real", so for me, it worked. And I believe that without the microphone, she would've been hard to hear and understand. After seeing her performance in Urinetown and now this, Lamason proves her versatility as an actress. I'm going to predict she will be a star in less than 10 years.

Brian Porter as "Molina" is the star of this show. I don't believe I have ever seen, or will ever see, a more realistic portrayal of this character. I've never felt that the fact "Molina" is gay was very vital to the character. It makes for some good tension between him and "Valentin", but the real focus should be on the emotions. Porter's characterization was perfect. I'd even go so far as to call it brilliant. For his Atlanta theatrical debut, I was blown away. I hope he becomes a fixture of the Atlanta theatre scene. I'm going to echo "mapobeancake's" sentiments here and say that his performance alone was worth the price of admission.

Even though the title of the show is Kiss of the Spider Woman, I feel as if Porter should have been given the last bow instead of Lamason. I'm sure it will always be done this way since people are going to reference the show as it was created: a vehicle for legendary Chita Rivera, thus giving the female final bow. So really, no complaints here, just my own personal opinion.

Luke Dreiling as "Valentin" was quite good as well, but I was often left feeling that he was trying too hard to "act" the part, causing a lot of his dialogue to come across very subtle, and often times, lost. Vocally, he sang the part very well and had all of the high notes. He tended to rush the tempo in several of his songs, but this could be attributed to nerves as opposed to inability to actually keep a steady tempo. He gave a very credible performance against Porter's "Molina."

Barbara Cole Uterheardt as "Molina's Mother" is also a knock-out in this show. For as little stage time that she has, she makes it one of the most memorable characters within the show. The scenes she shared with "Molina" were on the verge of heart-breaking, and I found myself fighting back tears during her "goodbye" scene to Molina. I'd also call her performance brilliant.

Charlie Miller as "The Warden" was also a stand-out. He was very sinister and evil in a Hannibal Lecter kind of way. Every scene he had creeped me out. His portrayal worked excellently. He was very understated, without being over the top, and still scared me. Good job.

I think Greg Poulos has done an amazing job directing this show, considering the size of Onstageís performance space. The only major issue I had with his choices though, was with the staging for the final scene between Molina and Valentin. I believe that this should be the most intense moment in the show for the audience, and instead of intense, it was far more emotional and intimate. It's not that I didn't like it that way; it actually made the show more about their relationship. Perhaps I'm merely stating this without regard to how he and the actors shaped their characters, but as an audience member, I wanted to be more "on edge" during this scene and it just didn't happen. I think that having Molina and Valentin be kept apart by restraints or by the prison guards would've made it a little more effective. But again, Poulos did an incredible job overall.

As I said earlier, the technical aspects of this show could have been better. In my opinion, the costumes needed the most work. They just weren't very good. Everyone on stage, especially the prisoners, looked too "neat". They should've been dirtier or older looking. And I agree with "mapobeancake" here as well--the tropical shirts were just pure laziness for such an energetic Act One finale. They definitely needed more of a Latin-feel to them. I also felt the use of 24601 for one of the prisoner's numbers was a bit too much, but I did get a good laugh once I realized it. Brian Porter also seemed to have trouble with a quick-change at the end of the show into a full tuxedo. Hopefully, this wasn't also the fault of the costume designer.

The set was also very bland, but I can forgive this more than the costumes due to the fact that the show is set in a prison, and prisons don't tend to be very exciting in the way of design. I thought it could've looked a little dirtier as well though. However, I did think the way that the Spider Woman's web was designed was very effective. I feel like the lighting design really made this work. The lighting was excellent for this show.

I hope a lot more people come out to see this show. I've seen a lot of wonderful productions at Onstage, and as a theatre lover and patron, it always saddens me to see such poor attendance for such good shows. I'm hoping this review will help get the word out so that you won't miss these amazing performances of a musical which is rarely staged.

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