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Release: Immediate

Hit Broadway musical 'Kiss of the Spider Woman' comes to Hancher

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The hit Harold Prince musical "Kiss of the Spider Woman," winner of seven Tony Awards on Broadway, will come to the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium for three performances -- at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, and at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8. The performances are part of Hancher's 1996-97 Parsons Technology Broadway Series.

The touring production stars South American TV and recording star Sandra Guida, who appeared in the musical's original Argentine production.

"Kiss of the Spider Woman" was adapted by Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally ("Ragtime") and features songs by Broadway veterans John Kander and Fred Ebb, who are best known as the musical team of "Cabaret." Entertainment Weekly hailed their creation as "one of the most seductive, powerful and emotionally compelling plays of our time."

Set in the prison of a repressive Latin American dictatorship, "Kiss of the Spider Woman" is an unusual tale of friendship and love that portrays how the relationship between two men gradually evolves from hostility and distrust to mutual respect.
Molina, a window dresser arrested for homosexuality, is an eternal romantic who escapes into a fantasy world based on his memories of the cinema. His cellmate, Valentin, was imprisoned for terrorism, and is the victim of brutal tortures and interrogations.

Molina attempts to distract and comfort Molina by spinning out the cinema stories he remembers from his childhood. In particular he describes the actress with which he is obsessed, a movie goddess named Aurora, who once portrayed the Spider Woman, a specter of death. Valentin is suspicious, but eventually, through Molina's compelling, imaginative powers, both men are able to escape into a fantasy world, and their friendship survives the cruelest of manipulations.

The national touring production includes the ingenious sets fashioned for the Broadway run by Jerome Sirlin, whose projections were featured in the Hancher performances of Philip Glass' "A Thousand Airlines on the Roof" several seasons ago. In "Kiss of the Spider Woman" the tubes of steel that define the prison are extended with computerized, illusionistic slide projections.

The tour lighting by adapted from the Broadway original by Howell Binkley, well-known to Hancher audiences as the lighting designer of the Joffrey/Price collaboration "Billboards" and many of the dances of David Parsons.
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The score includes haunting ballads, torrid Latin American-inspired melodies and pulsating rhythms. Just as their music for "Cabaret" evoked the Kurt Weill-sound of Berlin in the 1930s and their score for "Zorba" suggested Greek bazouki influences, their "Kiss of the Spider Woman" score features musical styles ranging from tango, samba, rumba and cha-cha to Cuban mambo and music from the Andes. The unique orchestration includes the traditional Argentine tango accordion, the bandoneon, and exotic percussion instruments and the pan flute.

Sandra Guida, who brings Aurora to life, grew up in Buenos Aires dreaming of becoming a Broadway star. As a little girl she imitated the singers and musicians she saw on the streets, and at the age of 11 she enrolled in Argentina's Instituto Superio de Arte del Teatro Colon, where she was able to combine her love of singing with study of ballet and modern dance.

Following successes in stage musicals including "Hair" and "Gypsy," she broke into TV with leading roles in "West Side Story," "They're Playing Our Song," "Chicago" and "Evita."

With her own band, La Fila, she recorded music combining Latin influences with American jazz, rock and funk, catching the ears of American producers and leading to plans for a U.S. tour.

But just as her band was taking off, "Kiss of the Spider Woman" arrived in Buenos Aires. She was in the production there for nearly a year. Touring the United States in the musical, she is also preparing for the American debut tour of her band.
Tickets for "Kiss of the Spider Woman" are $37.50, $34 and $30. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and tickets for young people 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology. Audio description for audience members with visual impairment will be offered at the 8 p.m performance on Feb. 8.

The corporate sponsor of the Broadway Series is Parsons Technology, through the University of Iowa Foundation.