John Kander and Fred Ebb, the great songwriting team behind such immortal hits as Cabaret and Chicago, do not shy from exploring the darker realms of human experience in the musical, Kiss of the Spider Woman. The plot revolves around two prisoners in an Argentine jail. Valentin, played by Rick Johnson, is a political prisoner, an important prize for an authoritarian regime wishing to crush a growing resistance movement. His cellmate is Molina, played by Dave Felton, a gay window-dresser serving an eight-year sentence on a trumped-up morals charge. Valentin is the definition of macho and, at first, he rejects Molina’s friendship, even drawing a chalk line across the center of the cell, ordering the gay man to stay on his side. But Molina wins Valentin over, helping him escape the torments of confinement by reenacting movies starring his most beloved star, Aurora, played by Christie Cappuchi. The showbiz diva haunts the proceedings as she performs lavish production numbers that drown out the screams of torture. When the prison warden fails to break Valentin, despite increasingly violent means, he tries to use Molina to draw information on the young revolutionary. But Molina, despite his insistence that he is a coward, makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect Valentin — and, in so doing, at last writes his own inspiring story. Spider Woman dramatizes heroism in the face of fascism.
Mejaski choose this musical for its substance. “This musical is unique. In one scene, you have the raw, sheer power of human emotion and in the next you have glamour and sparkle, an imagination in one man’s head. You go from torture and pain to song and dance. We hope to make our audiences laugh and we hope to bring them to tears. In the end, we hope to have them thinking, feeling, and carrying this experience with them afterward.”
Kiss of the Spider Woman: book by Terrence McNally, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb is based on the novel by Manuel Puig. This play is directed and choreographed by Michelle Mejaski, music direction by Scott Michaelsen, vocal direction by Trish Sewell and set design by Gary Loddo. Staged by Cascades Theatrical Company and Mejaski Choreography and Productions.
The musical runs January 10-13 and 17-20 at CTC located at 148 NW Greenwood Ave.