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LogoKiss of the Spiderwoman

A Musical in 2 Acts, a Prologue and 19 Scenes. Book by Terrence McNally, based on the novel of the same name by Manuel Puig. Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb.

Shaftesbury Theatre, London - 20 October, 1992 (390 perfs)
Broadhurst Theatre Broadway 3 May, 1993 (906 perfs)


Molina a homosexual who is serving a sentence for allegedly corrupting a minor, sits in a prison cell in an unnamed Latin American country. The time is the recent past Lonely and tormented, he hears he seductive, beckoning voice of the Spider Women VaIentin, a Marxist revolutionary, is brought to the prison as a suspected terrorist. Severely beaten and unconscious, Valentin is thrown into Molina's cell. Horrified by Valentin's condition, Molina conjures up the screen goddess Aurora and escapes into one of his cinematic fantasies.

Howard McGillin, Maria Conchita Alonso & Brian Mitchell
Howard McGillin, Maria Conchita Alonso and Brian Mitchell
(Photo - Catherine Ashmore)

While the prisoners long for freedom Valentin regains consciousness. Despite Molina's efforts to engage him in conversation, Valentin ignores Molina and rudely rejects him. Undaunted Molina flamboyantly introduces himself and tells Valentin about his expertise as a window dresser. Valentin angrily tells Molina to leave him alone.

Molina tells Valentin to think of a woman in his life, that the memory will help him cope with his loneliness. Molina says he thinks of his mother. Thus encouraged, Valentin thinks of his girlfriend, Marta.

The prisoners also wonder what their friends and families are doing without them.

Molina teases Valentin about his girlfriend Marta. As cries of tortured prisoners echo throughout the prison, Molina tells Valentine how, as a child, he spent hours watching movies at a local cinema where his mother worked as an usherette. He confides in Valentine about his passion for movies, especially his love of the beautiful movie star Aurora. He admired every movie she made except one, where she played the Spider Woman, a figure of death. Molina believes the Spider Woman is real and he claims he has seen her in the prison. Valentin calls him a fool. Yet, escaping into these imaginary, glorious moves helps Molina cope with the cruelty and terror surrounding him.

In another part of the prison, the Warden denies reports of torture in the prison. We know, however, that the accusations are true. In the midst of these tortures, Valentin tries to cope by remembering the love of his girlfriend.

After additional torture, Valentin's crippled body is thrown into the cell. Molina again calls on Aurora who appears and helps him minister to Valentin's wounds. Marta also materialises. That night, during their meal, Molina tells Valentin about his fondness for a waiter named Gabriel while Valentine reminisces about his first love.

Molina begins gasping with cramp. He is taken to the infirmary where he hallucinates. Molina sees his mother, wearing a movie usherette's uniform and seeks her forgiveness. She tells him she would only be ashamed if he did something cruel or uncaring. Then the Spider Woman appears and she and Molina converse.

Scene from Livent's 1995 production
Maria Conchita Alonso, Raymond Rodriguez, Mark Bove, Troy Myers & Colton Green in Livent's
1995 production of Kiss of the Spider Woman directed by Harold Prince
(Photo - Catherine Ashmore)

Molina recovers and is taken back to his cell. The guards bring more food to Valentin who has not eaten for three days. After he eats the food, Valentin is wracked with pain and cramp. As Molina comforts him, Valentin utters Marta's name and faints. Molina wishes he could experience the love that Valentin feels for Marta.

The Warden increases the pressure on Molina to betray Valentin by telling Molina that his mother is ill. Valentin begs Molina to recount a movie story because it will help take his mind off the pain. Molina tells the story of Amazon Love, set in a South American jungle. Molina's telling of the story carries Valentin further into the fantasy world to save both of them from the stark, deadly reality of the prison. Molina continues to entertain Valentin by telling of a film in which Aurora sacrifices herself for her lover. Valentin say he has a movie of his own, which does not have a part for Aurora, no singing, no dancing .... just the truth.

Molina becomes increasingly torn between his love for Valentin and his worries about his mother's health. He also remains unwilling to get politically involved. The Warden summons Molina and tells him his mother's health is worsening. He allows Molina to speak to her on the telephone. By so doing, Molina agrees to get the names of of Valentin's comrades for the Warden.

Back in the cell, Molina tells Valentin he is being released in the morning. Valentin asks him if he could make a few vital telephone calls for him. Molina refuses, despite his longing for Valentin and desire to please him. The Spider Woman appears, knowing this web of intrigue, fate and betrayal that will soon bring Molina to her. In order to manipulate him Valentin seduces Molina so that he will do his political bidding. As the two men are entangled further into her web, the Spider Woman reappears.

The next morning, Valentin again asks Molina to deliver a message. Molina refuses to get involved because he is too weak to carry out the assignment. Valentin kisses him and thus emboldened, Molina finally agrees to deliver Valentin's message.

As Molina leaves the prison, the Warden asks him one last time for the names. Molina writes several down and leaves. The Warden knows the names are false and orders guards to follow him. On the streets, Molina realises he is a stranger to the life he once knew. He visits his mother and, after gaining the reluctant permission, makes the fateful call for Valentin.

In the prison, Valentin is being interrogated by the Warden. Molina, his face bloody and body beaten, is dragged in. The Warden pulls out a revolver and threatens to kill Molina if Valentin does not reveal the names. Molina warns Valentin that he he obeys the Warden's order, Valentin will have betrayed him. As Molina proclaims his love, the Warden shoots him. In the moment before his death, Molina experiences his ultimate Technicolor fantasy in which he dances a joyful tango with the Spider Woman, celebrating his release from pain. Aurora gives him that fateful kiss.


Aurora (Spider Woman)
Molina's Mother
Prisoners doubling as various materialised characters

Musical Numbers


  1. Prologue - Aurora, Prisoners
  2. Her Name Is Aurora - Molina, Aurora, Aurora's Men, Prisoners
  3. Over the Wall - Prisoners
  4. Bluebloods - Molina
  5. Dressing Them Up/I Draw the Line - Molina, Valentin
  6. Dear One - Molina's Mother, Marta, Valentin, Molina
  7. Over the Wall II - Prisoners, Molina, Valentin
  8. Where You Are - Aurora, Aurora's Men, Prisoners
  9. Over the Wall III - Marta, Valentin, Prisoners
  10. Come - Aurora
  11. I Do Miracles - Aurora, Marta
  12. Gabriel's Letter/My First Woman - Gabriel, Valentin
  13. Morphine Tango - Orderlies
  14. You Could Never Shame Me - Molina's Mother
  15. A Visit - Aurora, Molina
  16. She's a Woman - Molina
  17. Gimme Love - Aurora, Molina, Aurora's Men


  1. Russian Movie/Good Times - Aurora, Molina, Valentin
  2. The Day After That - Valentin, Families of the Disappeared
  3. Mama, It's Me - Molina
  4. Anything for Him - Aurora, Molina, Valentin
  5. Kiss of the Spider Woman - Aurora
  6. Over the Wall IV - "Lucky Molina" - Warden, Prisoners
  7. Only in the Movies - Molina, People in His Life (Company)


Violin 1 & 2; Viola 1 & 2; Cello; Bass; Woodwinds; Oboe 1 & 2; Trumpet db flugelhorn 1 & 2; Cornet, Cor Anglais; French Horn 1 & 2; Trombone; Drums; Percussion; Keyboard

Scenes and Settings

The action takes place in a prison in Latin America sometime in the recent past.

Prologue: A Prison.

Act 1

Act 2