Kiss to Build a Dream On: Chase, Diaz, Foster Ignite Kander & Ebb Festival in DC

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11 Mar 2008

<I>Kiss</I> stars Will Chase, Natascia Diaz and Hunter Foster.
Kiss stars Will Chase, Natascia Diaz and Hunter Foster.
Photo by Joan Marcus
Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, launches its four-month Kander & Ebb Celebration March 11 with the Tony Award-winning musical Kiss of the Spider Woman featuring Will Chase, Hunter Foster and Natascia Diaz.

"The tale of two persecuted men — a window dresser and a socialist rebel — who come to share a prison cell, the horror of torture, and the escape of movie fantasies," Kiss of the Spider Woman features Broadway's Chase as the radical Valentin, Diaz as the mysterious Spider Woman/Aurora and Tony Award nominee Foster as the gay, movie-obsessed prisoner Molina.

The creative team for the new production is Signature artistic director Eric Schaeffer, Signature music director Jon Kalbfleisch and Signature resident artistic associate choreographer Karma Camp, with scenic designer Adam Koch, costume designer Anne Kennedy, lighting designer Chris Lee and sound designer Matt Rowe.

Performances play to April 20 in Signature's 260-seat MAX Theatre.

With a book by Terrence McNally based on the novel by Manuel Puig, Kiss of the Spider Woman won seven Tony Awards in 1993: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score (Kander and Ebb), Best Actor in a Musical (Brent Carver in the role of Molina), Best Actress in a Musical (Chita Rivera in the role of Spider Woman/Aurora), Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Anthony Crivello in the role of Valentin) and Best Costume Design (Florence Klotz). It also received five Drama Desk Awards.

The Signature cast also includes Helen Hayes Award winner Erin Driscoll as Marta, Channez McQuay as Molina's mother, Helen Hayes Award winner Steven Cupo as Warden, Christopher Bloch as Esteban, Helen Hayes Award winner Andy Brownstein as Marcos and the ensemble: Danny Binstock, Kurt Boehm, Matt Conner, James Gardiner, LC Harden, Jr. and Helen Hayes Award winner Stephen Gregory Smith.

There are two press openings: March 16 and March 17.

This is the first of three full K&E Celebration productions with scores by composer John Kander and late lyricist Fred Ebb. Still to come: The Visit starring Chita Rivera and George Hearn, and The Happy Time starring George Dvorsky.

Tickets to Kiss of the Spider Woman are $40-$69 and are now on sale at Ticketmaster at (703) 573-SEAT (7328) or by visiting


From March through June, Signature Theatre — known for its commitment to new and classic musicals — is celebrating the groundbreaking team of Kander and Ebb. In addition to staging productions of their work, Signature will offer Karen Akers' cabaret show First You Dream: The Songs of Kander & Ebb, Kander & Ebb Overtures Cabaret, Bowen McCauley Dances Kander & Ebb, "Kander & Ebb at the Movies," "One on One with John Kander," "Colored Lights – The Kander & Ebb Gallery" and The Kander and Ebb Gala. See the Signature website for more information.

An early Kander and Ebb song, "My Coloring Book," became a hit for Barbra Streisand. In 1965 they worked on their first Broadway show Flora, the Red Menace, produced by Hal Prince and directed by George Abbott, and introducing Liza Minnelli (who would later star in the film of their innovative Broadway musical, Cabaret as well as the Broadway productions of Chicago, The Act and The Rink. Their other musicals include The Happy Time, Zorba, 70 Girls 70, The Act, Woman of the Year (Tony Award for music and lyrics), and Steel Pier.

At the time of Ebb's death in 2004, their musicals All About Us (also known as Skin of Our Teeth), The Visit and The Minstrel Show had not yet found a commercial home. Curtains opened on Broadway in 2007, and is still running.