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KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN closed New Line's fourteenth season in June 2005, Kander & Ebb's dark masterpiece based on the world famous novel and film about political prisoners in Latin America who learn to use imagination as their only means of survival. With a script by Terrence McNally (Ragtime, Love! Valour! Compassion!) and originally choreographed by Rob Marshall (who directed the film version of Chicago), this is one of the most emotionally charged, most compelling, most unsettling pieces of dramatic theatre you'll ever experience.

Set in 1970s Argentina during the infamous "Dirty War," the show focuses on two cellmates, Molina, the flamboyantly gay window dresser jailed for his homosexuality, and Valentin, the fiery, passionate revolutionary and political prisoner. When the torture gets too horrific, when the walls feel like they're closing in, Molina -- and later Valentin as well -- escape into an MGM movie musical fantasy world, where the femme fatale Aurora seduces handsome young men before killing them.

Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times, "Kiss of the Spider Woman is nothing less than an investigation of what it means to be a man, in the highest moral sense, whatever one’s sexual orientation." Newsday called the show "the only new show with a wild heart and a fresh eye, the only one that budges the form in a seriously extravagant theatrical direction, the only one with a book that's stylish, the only one with an accessible gotta-dance score that isn't exclusively content to sound like music we've heard before." The New York Daily News called it "compelling, beautiful, funny, and moving," and said that it "transforms what might be cruel melodrama into something provocative, disquieting, and operatically haunting." The New York Daily News called it "compelling, beautiful, funny, and moving, [with] a cinematic fluidity and a poetic charge." The show won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. 

Kiss of the Spider Woman is show like no other, overwhelming, almost unbearably emotional, and ultimately healing. Check out some of New Line's rehearsal photos.



Want to explore more? We recommend:  

The original Broadway cast album of Kiss of the Spider Woman and the second cast album with Vanessa Williams (with some additional material)

Director Scott Miller's background notes and analysis of the musical

Manuel Puig's original novel Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Puig's non-musical stage play

A great interview with Hal Prince about a very early version of Kiss of the Spider Woman

The DVD or video of the original 1985 (non-musical) film version 

Articles and reviews from the New York Times archives about Manuel Puig and Kiss of the Spider Woman

A great book, Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions, and a great article, "Manuel Puig and the Queering of Film Melodrama"

E-Notes background notes on the novel Kiss of the Spider Woman

A good Spider Woman fan site

A great book, A History of Argentina in the Twentieth Century and the Argentina page on the Latin American Studies.org website

The Amnesty International USA website

Argentina's "Dirty War," 1976-1983, in which 10,000-30,000 people were killed or "disappeared"; also an article on the United States' support of Argentina's brutal terrorist government in the 1970s, and a sobering list of people killed, wounded, or kidnapped by the Argentine government during the 1970s

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