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KOTSW: Chita Rivera or Vanessa Williams?

Alessio2
Understudy
joined:11/15/13
So here is my question: Which is the favorite amongst BWW posters. The Chita Rivera or Vanessa Williams version of Kiss of the Spider Woman. I was at amoeba music tonight in LA and I came across both these recordings. I'm not familiar with this show at all and i struggled with which one to purchase...after a small inner struggle I went with the Vanessa Williams version as I remember hearing she was supposed to be amazing in it. Thoughts??
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HorseTears
Broadway Legend
joined:3/25/05
You made the wrong choice. /thread.

Updated On: 1/22/14 at 03:12 AM
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dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
I found them both pretty terrific. (But I would have gone with Chita as well. Because. Well. Chita.)
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
bobs3
Broadway Legend
joined:4/8/12
I saw them both. Chita Rivera danced the hell out of the role -- nobody could have done what she did. But Vanessa Williams sang the role better and she had an alluring sexuality that Chita (at age 60) could never match.
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CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
BOTH. They were both fabulous in the role.

Maria Conchita Alonso? NOT SO MUCH.
brldisteach2
Understudy
joined:11/28/11
I was lucky enough to see Chita Rivera in the role, and she was fantastic. I didn't see Vanessa Williams. I have both cast recordings and enjoy them both.
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ukpuppetboy
Stand-by
joined:2/12/13
Saw Chita a handful of times in London, but also Bebe Neuwirth after she had left for Broadway and I'll never understand why she never seemed to get any praise for her portrayal. Bebe's version of the title song was phenomenal.

Updated On: 1/22/14 at 07:27 AM
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Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
Though I love that I got to see Chita in performance onstage, it's the Vanessa Williams cast I listen to all the time. I think Chita was woefully miscast and twisted the show into something it was never meant to be. (I know I'll get flak for this but Molina shouldn't be obsessed with an asexual grandmother figure.) Vanessa's voice is great on the recording and lest we forget -- Brian Stokes Mitchell.
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SidebySidebyLogan
Stand-by
joined:9/25/13
I love both. They each bring something different to the material. Vanessa's is obviously more sexual while Chita is more deceptive. She draws you in with a comforting caress then sinks her fangs in. It's one of my favorite examples of 2 completely different actresses being allowed the space to give their own take on a role.

Someone in a Tree - I get where you're coming from about Molina worshiping an asexual grandma figure but I'm not sure I agree. Think of all the young gay men who queen out over Bette Davis, Cher, Bette Midler, Little Edie, Madonna, etc. These women may be old enough to be their grandmothers but (some) were sex icons at one point in their career. If I were trapped in a cell I may resort to fantasizing about the Like a Virgin video even though I was a toddler at the time. That's why I think Chita's take on Aurora works. Because Molina is recessing into the campy fun that brought him joy and it's the stark contrast of that camp against the prison that makes the piece so fascinating.

This show is at the very tip top of my list of shows that need revived. I'd love to see Nicole Scherzinger make her Broadway debut as Aurora. Or Sara Ramirez finally come back to the stage in the role. As for the men maybe Jeremy Jordan and Andy Mientus? I'm ashamed to say I'm not very familiar with Hispanic actors
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SidebySidebyLogan
Stand-by
joined:9/25/13
Double post
Updated On: 1/22/14 at 02:59 PM
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SidebySidebyLogan
Stand-by
joined:9/25/13
Double post
Updated On: 1/22/14 at 02:59 PM
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tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
They are both very good.

I would have gone with Chita for the same reason most people on here have..because she's Chita.

Having said that, the score is marvelous and regardless of which Spider Woman you choose it's a great cast recording to cherish.
....but the world goes 'round
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nicnyc
Understudy
joined:7/7/12
I don't think there is much comparison as far as the recordings. Chita Rivera blows everyone else away... She has this incredibly deep rich belt than just is perfection for this score. Vanessa Williams' just isn't low enough or deep enough by comparison and therefore doesn't have the same effect. I saw Chita on Broadway and she was amazing in the role on stage as well - and since Molina is gay - he isn't looking at Aurora as an age-appropriate sexual partner but as a symbol, a fantasy. He's wishing he were able to embody the traits of the legendary screen siren he has all these wonderful memories of watching - and he escapes into the fantasies of her performances. It makes perfect sense & her age is irrelevant.
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SonofRobbieJ
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/09
I saw both women in the role, and they were both terrific. Rivera brought a lifetime of showwomanship to the role. Williams brought a hypnotic vocal quality that was mesmerizing. I also own both recordings. I love the vocals on the Williams, Stokes and McGillin recording. But the performances of Rivera, Carver and Crivello are essential.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
I saw Chita in the tour, and before that owned the original cast album, so that's the authentic one for me. That said, the other recording has a lot to recommend it, and it is produced by Thomas Z Shepherd (who did so many classic Sondheim, etc, cast albums) who I think does a better job--choosing a bit more material and dialogue, etc.

Also, I believe it's out of print, whereas I think Chita's is still in print so you can always pick thatup later if you like the score.
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HorseTears
Broadway Legend
joined:3/25/05
nicnyc knows what's up. Perfectly said.
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CATSNYrevival
Broadway Legend
joined:3/1/04
It should also be noted that the Vanessa Williams recording has a lot more dialogue so it's easier to follow the story if you're unfamiliar with it. I think the OP made the right choice, but it won't hurt to one day go back and listen to the original recording with Chita to compare.
That's right! Underscore mother-fu@#ers!
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SidebySidebyLogan
Stand-by
joined:9/25/13
Both are on Spotify if you want to compare and contrast
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Chita all the way. Her voice has character. I enjoyed seeing her in the show.

Vanessa sings it like a graduate from the Julliard School of Opera. Every note is there and in place, but it's so vanilla sounding.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
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ljay889
Broadway Legend
joined:8/4/04
^ This. Chita's vocal portrayal is much eerier.
#sadandtransparent
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Demitri2
Broadway Star
joined:3/25/05
I saw both Chita and Vanessa and thought they were both excellent in their own way. Each brought something different to the role which I thoroughly enjoyed. Yet there was one thing that did surprise me and that was the different audience response each got in the second act. It was the Russian movie segment where Aurora sang "There's gonna be good times....there's gonna be bad times" and played out a scene from one of her old films. Chita was just fine but when I saw Vanessa she had the audience laughing hysterically which took me by surprise. I know audiences differ with each performance but there was so much more humor in Vanessa's delivery. Yet to answer the question as to who was better, it's like comparing Merman, Lansbury, Daly, Peters and LuPone in GYPSY. Why bother? With the exception of Merman (who I didn't see), I enjoyed them all equally.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Demitri2, I was going to mention that as well.

In the "good times" sequence, they finish reading the letter and say that it is signed by "A Friend." Chita didn't put any type of inflection on "A Friend." Vanessa said it like "A Friend???" It was a funny moment, but I didn't think that line needed a laugh.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Interesting. I don't remember the show on stage all that well, but that scene is campy enough, and is meant to be Molina's memory--so would he really play up the humour?
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HorseTears
Broadway Legend
joined:3/25/05
Has that horrible fudge factory in London done a KOTSW production with 7 actors and 3 musicians yet? If so, I hope no Broadway producers saw it. If this wonderful show gets revived on Broadway again, I doubt we'll get it on the scale we did in the 90s.

I think Chita's tour of KOTSW was the first or second national tour I ever saw as a kid. What a magical experience that was. She was absolutely captivating. It seems we often -- and rightly so -- focus on Chita's dancing, but her wonderfully smoky, resonant voice was as much a highlight for me.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
It was my fourth major tour--after the obligatory (for the time) Phantom, Les Miz, and the awesome Secret Garden tour.

I don't think the Menier has done it--but they probably will. Signature did a scaled down version a few years back for their K&E season I believe...
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ukpuppetboy
Stand-by
joined:2/12/13
Gothampc - my memory of Chita in London has her putting her gravelling quiver all over the "A frieeennnnnd" line in the Russian sequence - so maybe that's just a phase Auroras gotta go through.

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