Thursday, February 3, 2011

Slow Burn Theatre: Kiss of the Spider Woman (4 reviews)

Slow Burn Theatre opened its production of the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman on January 28, 2011.
From the creators of Chicago and Cabaret comes the winner of multiple 1993 Tony Awards including Best Musical Kiss of the Spider Woman revamps a harrowing tale of persecution into a dazzling spectacle that juxtaposes gritty realities with liberating fantasies. Cell mates in a Latin American prison, Valentin is a tough revolutionary undergoing torture and Molina is an unabashed homosexual serving eight years for deviant behavior. Molina shares his fantasies about an actress, Aurora (originated on Broadway by Chita Rivera) with Valentin. One of her roles is a Spider Woman who kills with a kiss. With its beautiful score and electric dance numbers Spiderwoman will have you caught in her web.
Patrick Fitzwater directed a cast that included Matthew Koinko, Tom Creatore, Renata Eastlick, Mary Gundlach, and Meredith Bartmon,

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Not many South Florida companies would take on Spider Woman, with its large cast and challenging mix of political drama and flashy production numbers.

But such challenges are what Slow Burn Theatre is all about
That doesn't guarantee perfect productions, of course; there is one major casting flaw in Kiss of the Spider Woman that might have sunk the show, if the other performers weren't so solid. Still, Fitzwater and Korinko are building a company worth seeking out.
...Molina soon hooks Valentin on his own way of escaping the horrors of imprisonment: Reliving the plots of old movies featuring a razzle-dazzle star named Aurora (Renata Eastlick, in a breakout performance).

Those detours into fantasy are the excuse for big production numbers featuring a belting, glamorous Eastlick and a chorus of singing-dancing "prisoners.'' Fitzwater has choreographed glitzy versions of Where You Are, Good Times, Gimme Love and other Kander-Ebb tunes...
Spider Woman also features a shimmeringly beautiful quartet -- Molina, Valentin, Molina's mother (Mary Gundlach) and Valentin's lover Marta (Meredith Bartmon)...
What doesn't work is the performance of Creatore as Molina. Thin of voice, sometimes flat, tending toward ineffectual weakness in his acting scenes, Creatore turns a central role into a cipher.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Slow Burn Theatre Company’s production Friday of the rarely revived Kiss of the Spider Woman has several facets to recommend it such as the movie-musical choreography and sparkling costumes. But in the end, it clearly needs more time to gel...
It’s not that Tom Creatore as Molina the flamboyant window dresser and Matthew Korinko as Valentin the anguished revolutionary aren’t working hard under Patrick Fitzwater’s direction. It’s just that so many of the colors and motivations apparent in the 1985 film are not coming across the footlights to the audience.
The only truly moving moment came when Molina and Valentin yearn for their loved ones in a contrapuntal quartet, Dear One, with Molina’s mother and Valentin’s girlfriend (Mary Gundlach and Meredith Bartmon whose lovely voices double the heartbreak).
And yet, this production has much going for it. Fitzwater’s staging is effective and his choreography is a glorious mashup of sambas, tangos, hips swiveling, pelvises pulsating and arms waving sinuously.
The stand out is Eastlick with her caramel skin, sensual voice, Louise Brooks helmet hair, lips framing a high-wattage smile. She exudes sexual heat while leading an able corps of chorus boys through their paces.
Hap Erstein reviewed for The Palm Beach Post:
...risks are catnip to West Boca’s Slow Burn Theatre Co., which stretches its resources, talent pool and ingenuity to deliver its most artistically satisfying production in its one year of existence. If you are in synch with the fledgling troupe’s mission of tackling "daring, contemporary and intelligent" musicals, you will not want to miss this exceptional rendering of Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater is the fortunate beneficiary of a new arrival in the area, Tom Creatore as emotionally fragile Molina, whose vulnerability makes his vocal confidence all the more touching. Co-artistic director Matthew Korinko is an impressive counterpoint as Valentin, notably in his optimistic anthem of eventual triumph, The Day After That.

Eastlick was a genuine find in Slow Burn’s recent Rocky Horror Show and here she commands the spotlight in the dual roles of Aurora and her death symbol film character, Spider Woman. Also a standout is Mary Gundlach, with her affecting portrayal of Molina’s mother.

John Lariviere wrote for Talkin' Broadway:
Renata Eastlick is perfectly cast as Aurora. Her dark beauty and broad, seductive smile are paired with strong stage presence, skillful dancing, and a solid singing voice. Costuming by Rick Pena is brought to life on Eastlick through numerous costume changes. Matthew Korinko is wonderful as Valentin. He captures the masculinity and angst of the role, and nicely maneuvers his singing voice through some higher passages by pulling back his sound. Tom Creatore is perhaps too young or unseasoned an actor to truly do justice to the role of Molina. He looks a bit uncomfortable with his props and costumes at the top of the show, and seems to avoid actor eye contact.
...Creatore and Korinko are joined by actresses Meredith Bartmon (Marta) and Mary Gundlach (Molina's Mother) in the most beautifully sung moment in the show. This highly underrated quartet is made poignant by their remarkable phrasing and blend. Both actresses make the most of the brief time they have on stage
Though the first act runs a bit long, this Slow Burn Theatre production of Kiss of the Spider Woman should be on your list of shows to see.
The Slow Burn Theatre Company production of Kiss of the Spider Woman plays at the West Boca Performing Arts Center through Sunday, February 6.

No comments:

Post a Comment