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Kiss of the Spider Woman

a Musical
CATEGORY : DRAMA MUSICAL
by Terrence McNally; Music and Lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb

COMPANY : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. (Decatur) [WEBSITE]
ID# 1785

SHOWING : November 03, 2006 - November 25, 2006

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Based on the Manuel Puig novel "El Beso de la Mujer Araña," KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN deals with themes of prison life, homosexuality, political revolutions and fantasy, specifically how fantasy can prevent one from insanity under torture. It tells the story of the unlikely relationship between two prison cell mates: Molina, a gay window dresser and Valentin, a political activist.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Greg Poulos
Choreographer Ricardo Aponte
Music Director Clay Causey
Production Manager Jacob Gallman
Lighting Designer Harley Gould
Light Board Operator Michael Magursky
Stage Manager Amy McGuire
Aurora/Spider Woman Sims Banes
Aurelio/Prisoner Michael Baum
Molina's Mother Barbara Cole Uterhardt
Valentin Luke Dreiling
Marcos Royce G. Garrison
Esteban Chad Healy
Gabriel/Prisoner John Markowski
Prisoner Andrew McKeown
Warden Charlie Miller
Molina Brian Porter
Molina's Mother Ami Rosen
Marta Katie Rouse
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Caught in the web
by th8rluvr
Monday, December 4, 2006
4.0
(sorry this is late - my computer has been offline for about a month now...)

Afterr seeing the amazing job that Poulos/Causey/Aponte did with Urinetown, I was very excited for this show. And I wasn't too disappointed.

Let me start with the weak points. The set was very bland. I get that they wer in a prison, but we needed something to pull us into Molina's mind during the Spider Woman moments. That blank wall could have been lit by some colorful lights or gobos during those scenes. Gould missed the mark on that. The costumes were lacking in the dream sequences as well. Sims Banes has such a beautiful figure, I wish they had gone a bit more daring/exotic with her costumes. And the hawaiian shirts for the latin number were just sad.

Now onto the good stuff. As Molina, Brian Porter nicely balances his fey-ness without going to far as to be a stereotypical gay man. His voice was great for this role as well. As Valentin, Luke Dreiling sounded good, but physically was not right for the role. He was too Anglo for the role. His voice was beautiful, though. And as Aurora/Spider Woman, Sims Banes was exquisite. Even though the role was definitely not in her vocal range, she pulled off a smokiness and sexiness that made me not mind. And her dancing was amazing.

I really have to give a hand to the ensemble of this show. They all shined through on Aponte's choreography, especially Michael Baum and Anthony Owen. John Markowski's Gabriel was very touching and Royce Garrison as the prison guard was perfectly cruel.

Overall, another great job by Onstage and the trio of Poulos/Causey/Aponte. This is definitely a collaboration that needs to continue together. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Uneven, but worth seeing
by pat_ohern
Saturday, November 25, 2006
3.0
We just saw Onstage Atlanta's "Kiss of the Spider Woman." Although we were forewarned by some of the reviews on this site, the appeal of the same team that produced the wonderful "Urinetown" was irresistable. Unfortunately, the production was not nearly as good as "Urinetown."

Brian James Porter as Molina was superb-- he's new in town and we are looking forward to seeing him perform in many more plays and musicals. His voice and his acting are first-rate. He was able to create a believable (if campy) Molia and hold it flawlessly throughout the play. Luke Dreiling, while a fine singer in his own right, was miscast as the revolutionary Valentin. I picture a poor South American revolutionary/political prisoner as thin, dark, intense, somewhat unkempt, and committed to "the cause" (OK--think Che Guevara.) Mr Dreiling is a tall, strapping blond with a shaved head and bulging muscles whose character didn't seem committed to much of anything. I just couldn't see him as a political prisoner, much less a downtrodden revolutionary. Sims Lamason is also a talented dancer, singer, and actress. Her dancing in particular was very impressive in "Spider Woman." However, as in "Urinetown," her lovely voice is too weak to be heard above the music (even with a mic) and it is difficult to understand the words she sings. She would be an excellent cabaret singer or recording artist, but she's not really cut out for musical theater.

I didn't understand the significance of all the criticisms about the costumes I saw postsed on this site. Costumes, while helpful, aren't really that important to the success of a production, are they? Well, now I understand. The play is set in an unnamed country in South America. But the costumes were 1950's American midwest. Really jarring! Imagine having Valentin's love interest (Marta) appear in a black short-sleeved sweater and houndstooth check straight skirt. She looked like a dowdy June Cleaver. Molina's mother (the very talented Ami Rosen) was dressed in cotton shirtwaists that are too fancy and frilly to be considered "housedresses" and they bear absolutely no resemblance to anything South American. Costume designer Nancye Hilley really should have done more cultural and historical research.

The play was enjoyable because of all the talent in the cast, including the wonderful chorus. And the choreography was very well done and well-executed. But I suspect that director Greg Poulos wanted to minimize the South American setting of the play-- make it more of a "it could happen here" sort of thing. But the result is that he had to give up the Latin passion, suffering, and hope, and ended up with a bland, generic, passionless production. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Wow. Wow. And one teeny not-so-Wow.
by TheatreCriticATL
Saturday, November 11, 2006
4.0
I have to say - I was a little taken aback when I heard that OnStage Atlanta was going to attempt "Kiss of the Spider Woman." Its such a difficult and dark musical and I honestly did not think they would be able to pull it off. Boy was I wrong. I have never reviewed a show before, but here goes.

Let me start off by saying I agree with the other reviewers, the costumes were awful. I think they should seriously think about getting a new costume designer or something. I saw several costume malfunctions and I have a hard time believing that people who wear clothes every day had that much trouble with them - something else had to be wrong.

I am not entirely sure I agree with people about the set - what do you expect? It IS a community theatre - rolling jail cell? Please. I think the set looked fine for what it was intended to do.

I am also not entirely sure how you can call Auroa's (Sims Banes) costumes gaudy and over the top and then compliment her on her portrayal of Auroa (a B movie actress). Gaudy and over the top ARE characteristics of B Movies and I think her costumes were the best in the show. Seriously, lutherboston, if you noticed the prisoners numbers, you were paying too much attention and just looking for something to pick on. I never even noticed other than seeing that they had them.

I do have to agree that Brian Porter and Sims Lamasan completely were the stars of the show. Both of their performances were amazing. They both have incredible voices and were perfect for their parts - Brian portrayed gay beautifully without being a buffoon and Sims' voice and dancing ability are beyong compare - also the discinct differences in Sim's playing of Aurora and Spider Woman were consistent and bordered on genuis. Someone needs to snatch them both up and put them in movies. The other lead, Luke Dreiling was great, too - even if he understated some of his spoken lines. His "butch" look was perfect for the part of the straight "Valentin." His voice was phenomenal. His rendition of the song "Marta" with the other prisoners really got to me.

I thought the rest of the ensemble was quite fantastic - the voices were great, the acting was above par and the staging was appropriate. Barabara Cole and Katherine Rouse were wonderfully cast in the respective roles of "Molina's Mother" and "Marta." Their voices were a great match and Barbara in particular is a show stopper... that woman has such a subtlety to her character that I was enthralled by her everytime she walked on the stage. Even the four dancer/prisoners were so comfortable with their parts that I felt like I was watching a snippett from an old musical B movie - and that was completely appropriate.

So basically my only complaint is the costumes. Other than that I highly encourage everyone to take this show in - its a fabulous production of a difficult musical with some of the best talent Atlanta has to offer. Congrats to Greg and Clay for putting together a great show! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
That is not what I said... by mapobeancake
I did not say the costumes were gaudy and over the top. I said the costumes were "Gaudily inappropriate". There's a big difference there. Over the top would have been great. The Spider Woman's costumes were just wrong for every number in the show as was the poor ensembles'. Lazy costume design is clearly to blame. Like "lutherboston" said, no prisoner has a crisp bright white shirt to wear everyday. Would it have killed the costume designer to rub some frickin dirt on the costume, or at least bother to distress it in some way? How much effort does that take? As an audience member I remember saying, "Oh come on!".
The show would have been much better off with a different production staff who knew how to build a costume or light an actor as they crossed the stage. There were times actors were walking onstage in total darkness WHILE they were talking! WHAT!?
Regardless, it is still a great show with a wonderful and willing cast who work very well as an ensemble and certainly worth seeing.They just had a production staff who it seemed, to this paying audience member at least, to have totally dropped the ball.That was the only disappointment.
Amazing performances
by lutherboston
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
4.0
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 Onstage’s 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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Lead Actors Keep Kiss of the Spider Woman Above Water
by mapobeancake
Saturday, November 4, 2006
3.0
The leading actors of Kiss of the Spider Woman, Brian Porter and Luke Dreiling, who play Molina and Valentin respectively, elevate the production above the less than stellar set and costumes the cast are given to work with throughout the production.
It is a testament to the skills of the two leads that despite the surrounding technical distractions (or lack thereof), the audience still remains rivited by the intimate scenes the two actors share, not to mention their flawless vocal performances. The show works best when the focus returns to the tiny cell space shared by the two main characters, giving them the chance to really shine in their connective abilities as performers. Both actors are blessed with strong beautiful voices that soar above the exciting and romantic latin flavored score supported with electrifying flair by music director Clay Causey.
As Aurora, the Spider Woman of the title, Sims Banes certainly looks and sounds the part with her smokey alto and come hither glare. Sadly she ends up often wandering the stage with really nothing to do except being swallowed up by a shockingly sterile set that looks as if it is still awaiting a final design. While Aurora is a symbol and extension of Molina's imagination and desire to survive, here she is simply a lady who comes out every now and then in a gawdyliy inappropriate costume, sings a song and then disappears. There is no connective bond between the characters and at no fault to the two wonderful performers. Unfortunately the fault lies elsewhere in this production. Aurora is a B-movie icon whom Molina conjures in his imagination to take him away from prison and into the techicolor world of Hollywood musicals of the 1940s. Nearly ever song Aurora sings is clearly meant to be a big colorful musical number, exquisitely set-up and and vividly described by Porter's Molina before each number begins (a perfect blue-print for the director). Anyone watching the show would expect, after Porter's set-up of each song, for there to be a HUGE florish of color and a big splashy number to wisk the audience away. Instead, number after number, poor Banes with her big beautiful voice and sexy allure is forced to dance in front of the big beige/grey "open space" with four back-up dancers who are reduced to dancing in makeshift costumes such as Hawaiian shirts to represent the "tropical" number. One wonders how the director could have possibly missed such a fantastic opportunity to have fun with lights, costumes, and total over-the-top camp factor. A little more imagination could have gone a long way, as well as a better understanding of the script by the production staff and director.

Despite these problems, Kiss of the Spider Woman does have its truly great moments as well. Barbara Cole does a whole lot with very little as Molina's faithfully sweet apple pie of a mother in the few scenes she has with Porter's Molina. Together these engaging actors create a couple of truly heartbreaking scenes and Coles' soothing voice is a reassuring chime throughout the show.

However newcomer Brian Porter's performance is what keeps the show's head above water and is well worth the ticket price alone. As Molina he is at once a sassy and sly observer of everything fabulous and then turns around and breaks your heart with his vulnerbility and strength under dire circumstances. In his Atlanta theatre debut his touchingly brave and engagingly hilarious performance rises above the blahness of the this production and raises the bar for all male singers to follow on the Atlanta stage. Certainly someone to look out for down the road. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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