The musical version of Manual Puig's 1976 novel first saw life in 1990. Despite having been begotten by theater royalty, Kiss of the Spider Woman
got off to a rocky start before becoming one of the big musical hits of the '90s. Four-time Tony Award winner Terrence McNally adapted the book. John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, Master Class) wrote the music. The producer was Harold Prince (Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Sweeny Todd), who has won more Tony Awards than anyone in the history of mankind (that would be 21).
Kiss of the Spider Woman is about an openly gay window dresser and a Marxist revolutionary who share a South American prison cell, presumably in Argentina during the Dirty War of the 1970s. The musical first saw life at the State University of New York at Purchase. Despite Prince's request not to review the musical in workshop, the critics came anyway and weren't kind. After major revisions a Canadian producer staged Spider Woman in 1992 in Toronto. Then Prince took his musical to London's West End where it ran for 390 performances. In May of 1993, Kiss of the Spider Woman opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre.
Frank Rich of The New York Times summed up the musical as, "the story of an uncloseted, unhomogenized, unexceptional gay man who arrives at his own heroic definition of masculinity." It ran for over two years with 904 performances and won seven Tony Awards including Best Book, Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Choreography.
Pandora Productions, which has returned to The Henry Clay Theatre at 604 South Third Street, 3rd Floor, performs Kiss of the Spider Woman September 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 @ 7:30 p.m., September 16 & 23 @ 5:30 p.m.; and one matinee on Saturday, September 22 @ 2:00 p.m.