WMU News

University Theatre presents thrilling musical 'Spider Woman'

Oct. 5, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Opening the mainstage season with what the New York Times called "far and away the most thrilling" musical of the 1993 Broadway season, the University Theatre presents "Kiss of the Spider Woman" for seven performances opening Oct. 10.

This provocative musical spins the tale of two men in a South American prison who explore the power of friendship and imagination as they desperately struggle to keep their hope alive through the mysterious and fictitious world of the Spider Woman. "Kiss of the Spider Woman" is based on the Manuel Puig novel with book written by Terrence McNally, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, the same composer/lyricist team who brought to the stage "Chicago" and "Cabaret."

Performances are Oct. 10-12 and 17-19 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 13, at 2 p.m. in Laura V. Shaw Theatre of the Gilmore Theatre Complex. Standard admission is $16, with $12 for seniors and WMU faculty and staff, and $7 for students.

Special performances

Thursday, Oct. 10 -- An opening night reception, sponsored by Gull Lake Cafe, follows the performance.

Sunday, Oct. 13 -- Following the 2 p.m. matinee there will be a open discussion with the cast and production team.

Thursday, Oct. 17 -- The performance will be sign interpreted for the hearing impaired.

Friday, Oct. 18 -- The 23rd Annual President's Performance Scholarship Benefit to support scholarships in the Department of Theatre will held in conjunction with the 8 p.m. performance.

Tickets may be purchased through the Gilmore Theatre Complex Ticket Office at (269) 387-6222. Office hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. and two hours prior to performances. Tickets also can be purchased through the Epic Center Box Office in downtown Kalamazoo.

Cast and crew

The creative team for "Kiss of the Spider Woman" includes three individuals who have all worked professionally in the New York City theatre scene. While residing in New York, director Todd Neal directed several professional cabaret performances, taught at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, and served as Membership Director of the Dramtists' Guild, where he was in frequent contact with such artists as Stephen Sondheim, Kander and Ebb, and Jule Styne.

Music director Sean Michael Flowers has only resided in New York City for a short time and is already making his mark. His New York credits include a concert version of Rags with the Storefront Theatre Company and his original cabaret called "entitled." in its third run at Don't Tell Mamas. He was also a featured composer for New Mondays at the Duplex with Grammy-Award winner Stephen Schwartz (Godspell and Children of Eden) and Tony-Award winner Michael John LaChiusa (The Wild Party on Broadway). Flowers returns to WMU for the second year after collaborating with Neal last fall on A Chorus Line.

Choreographer Dee Dee Sandt has worked as a director and a choreographer in New York in Off-Off Broadway and Stock theatres. Her New York choreography credits include My Fair Lady, Carousel, and Kander and Ebb's The Rink.

The experience this creative trio brings to the production is a new approach to educational theatre. "Collaborating with Sean and Dee Dee has brought such a New York sense of professionalism and excitement to the production," says Neal. "This process is really happening in a New York minute, which is excellent for the students because it gives them a sense of how quickly professional theatre is created. They are being challenged in a different way than they are accustomed to in an educational theatre setting. I believe this production is really going to make an lasting impact on the students involved and the audience as well."

Flowers also feels this production is unlike any other of its kind and brings interesting challenges to the table. "The biggest challenge is relaying the message of hope, which must permeate through the music," said Flowers. "WMU's version is going to be very different from any other production of this show, and anyone who comes to see it will have an experience unlike any other they have had in Kalamazoo."

The cast of 20 features seniors Geoff Nelson as Molina and Jay Donnell as Valentin, juniors Andrea Wilmoth as Spider Woman/Aurora, Natalie Rado as Marta, and Heather Beck as Mother. The ensemble includes seniors Erich Sommerfeldt and Brent Whitney, juniors Graham Kurtz, Dan Spagnuolo, Kevin Vaught, Michael VanGemert, and Brian Wilson, sophomores Joel Gelman, Kevin Coleman, Killian Patton, and Brett Rigby, and freshmen Adam Steiner, Adam Carter, Jeffrey Fauver, and Tony DiPisa.

Behind the scenes of "Kiss of the Spider Woman" is a design/technical team almost entirely composed of students including Scenic Designer Christina Killmar (senior), Lighting Designer Jeff Rogers (senior), Sound Designer Michael Metzdorf (senior), Stage Manager is Staci Schmock (senior), and Co-Costume Designers Lesley Sorenson (senior) and Gwen Nagle, professor of theatre.

Media contact: Shauna Thieman, 269 387-6222, shauna.thieman@wmich.edu

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