Based on El Beso de la Mujer Arana, a novel by Manuel
Puig, Kiss of the Spider Woman explores the complex relationship
between two men caged together in a Latin American prison. One
of them, a gay window dresser, has been imprisoned for allegedly
making sexual advances to a young boy. In order to escape the
brutality of prison life, he spends his days dreaming of Aurora,
a B-movie actress from the 40s who once played the role of the
sinister Spider Woman. His dreams, however, become more complicated
when the warden asks him to spy on his cellmate, a political
activist jailed for his involvement in the Argentinian revolution.
Kiss of the Spider Woman was originally presented as
a work in progress at the State University of New York in Purchase,
New York. After this production, the show was completely reworked.
Kander and Ebb wrote eight new songs, and the book was drastically
revised. The show was then remounted in Toronto at the St. Lawrence
Centre with a cast that featured Chita Rivera, Brent Carver and
Anthony Crivello. The same production then moved to London where
it won the London Evening Standard Drama Award for "Best
Musical." Having already established itself as a legitimate
hit, Kiss of the Spider Woman finally opened in New York
at the Broadhurst Theatre on May 3, 1993, where it enjoyed a
run of 906 performances.
Other musicals by Kander and Ebb include Cabaret,
Chicago and Steel Pier.
In addition to such plays as Love! Valour! Compassion!
and Master Class, Librettist Terrence McNally has also
written the book for the musical Ragtime.