Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Kiss of the Spider Woman

Renata Eastlick, Matthew Korinko (reclined), Tom Creatore (kneeling)
Slow Burn Theatre presents Kiss of the Spider Woman, featuring music by John Kander and Fred Ebb, and book by Terrence McNally. It is based on the 1976 Manuel Puig novel El Beso de la Mujer AraƱa. The musical opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre on May 3, 1993, and closed on July 1, 1995, after 904 performances. It won six Tony Awards and tied for a seventh.

Set in a prison of an unnamed Latin America country, a homosexual window dresser, Luis Alberto Molina, is serving his third year of an eight-year-sentence for corrupting a minor male. In order to flee the violence and degradation of his imprisonment, he indulges in fantasies about his favorite old movies. His particular favorites revolve around the glamorous Aurora. He knows every line of every character she has ever played. There is one character he fears, however—the Spider Woman she portrayed in one dark film who kills men with her kiss.

When Marxist revolutionary Valentin Arregui Paz is tortured and thrown into the same cell with Molina, he nurses him back to health. The politically passionate Valentin does not easily form a friendship with the fussy and frivolous Molina, but in time they share personal secrets that forge a strong if odd bond. The prison director pressures Molina to divulge any secrets learned from Valentin, though divulging these secrets may result in death for those named. All around him, Molina sees Aurora, sometimes as the Spider Woman, weaving a mysterious web of fantasy and fear.

Renata Eastlick is perfectly cast as Aurora. Her dark beauty and broad, seductive smile are paired with strong stage presence, skillful dancing, and a solid singing voice. Costuming by Rick Pena is brought to life on Eastlick through numerous costume changes. Matthew Korinko is wonderful as Valentin. He captures the masculinity and angst of the role, and nicely maneuvers his singing voice through some higher passages by pulling back his sound. Tom Creatore is perhaps too young or unseasoned an actor to truly do justice to the role of Molina. He looks a bit uncomfortable with his props and costumes at the top of the show, and seems to avoid actor eye contact. His reedy singing voice is also a tad disappointing in the song "She's A Woman."

For "Dear One," Creatore and Korinko are joined by actresses Meredith Bartmon (Marta) and Mary Gundlach (Molina's Mother) in the most beautifully sung moment in the show. This highly underrated quartet is made poignant by their remarkable phrasing and blend. Both actresses make the most of the brief time they have on stage. The choreography and staging by Patrick Fitzwater fully uses the space and imparts the right flavor in songs such as "Where You Are" and "Gimme Love," which are well danced by Eastlick and the male ensemble. Though the first act runs a bit long, this Slow Burn Theatre production of Kiss of the Spider Woman should be on your list of shows to see.

In addition to Kiss of the Spider Woman, the collaborative works of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb include Cabaret, Chicago, Woman of the Year, The Rink, Zorba, 70, Girls, 70, The Happy Time, The World Goes 'Round, and the films New York, New York and Funny Lady.

This Slow Burn Theatre production of Kiss of the Spider Woman will be appearing through February 6, 2011, at the West Boca Performing Arts Center on the campus of West Boca High, 12811 West Glades Rd. (3.5 miles west of 441). Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $30 for Adults, $25 for Seniors, and $20 for Students. The Slow Burn Theatre Company is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) professional theatre company hiring local actors and actresses. They are committed to bringing high-quality contemporary musical theatre to South Florida, and proving that modern Broadway can rock. The company offers technical internships to local students, providing them with professional experience. For more information on Slow Burn you may contact them by phone at 866-811-4111 or online at www.slowburntheatre.com.

Aurora/Spider Woman
Valentin: Matthew Korinko
Molina: Tom Creatore
Molina's Mother: Mary Gundlach
Marta: Meredith Bartmon
Warden: Noah Levine
Marcos: Zachary Schwartz
Esteban: Mark Delia Ventura
Gabriel: Rick Pena
Ensemble: Michael Hopkins, Derek Vaughn, Jerel Brown, Joshua Brickman, and Joel Alfonso

Director/Choreographer: Patrick Fitzwater
Musical Director: Anne Chamberlain
Scenic Design: Ian T. Almeida
Lighting Designer: Lance Blank
Sound: Traci Almeida
Costumes: Rick Pena
Stage Manager: Jon Jones

Photo: Gemma Bramham

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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