Entertainment » Theatre

Kissing and Telling with 'Spider Woman' Director Ray Limon

by Tim Parks
Sunday Sep 3, 2017

When "Kiss of the Spider Woman" scurries into the Welk Resort Theatre to begin its eight-week run this September, it marks a decidedly different spin for the venue that usually offers up such musical theatre standards as "My Fair Lady" and "The Music Man."

Based on both the novel and the 1985 film that earned William Hurt a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Molina, a gay man imprisoned in a South American jail (incidentally, the first one ever earned by an actor playing a gay man). Raul Julia plays his new cell mate, Valentin Arregui and the two form an unlikely bond as Molina passes the time by sharing memories from his favorite films.

"Kiss of the Spider Woman" the musical was originally reimagined in 1992 at London's West End and then on Broadway in 1993. The production, with book by Terrence McNally and music by the famed John Kander and Fred Ebb, went on to win the Best Musical Tony Award that same year.

The Rage Monthly spoke with the show's choreographer and director Ray Limon about the timeliness of the Kiss of the Spider Woman's web, still at-the-ready to snare audiences and his time as an award-winning double threat.

Limon's initial reaction upon hearing that the Welk Resort Theatre was going to produce the musical was one that had him "almost falling out of my chair." But, as he explained, he sees the show as one for the ages, "It's so unique and so timely, because it's all about diversity. Two people from completely different backgrounds, from complete black and white opposite sides of the spectrum, locked up together in one room and being able to live in a somewhat harmonious atmosphere... it's an amazing story."

Perhaps when one thinks of the story and film, the word "musical" doesn't land on the forefront of the brain. But, as Limon pointed out, it does lend itself to that particular medium, "Actually, a lot of it is him (Molina) doing flashbacks. Even in the movie he talks about this actress-in this case Aurora-who he visualizes."

Limon extrapolated further, "When things start going wrong and the reality of their world and the horrors of being in prison set in, he escapes by remembering these old movie musical spectaculars with dancing girls and dancing boys. That makes a perfect place for a big production number."

Limon should know a thing or two about staging big production numbers, he was involved in bringing "Christmas With Carol Channing" to the Aqua Caliente Casino in Palm Desert and Liza Minnelli's "Men Alive" concert to the Orange County Performing Arts Center stage. Ever the gentleman, Limon said this about working with the two living legends: "One was a complete honor, a dream come true and took my breath away and was everything you think it would be... And one was crazy and chaotic and a little kooky."

Speaking of a little kooky, Limon's resume sports two of Hollywood's most notorious sequels: "Exorcist II: The Heretic" and "Staying Alive." "Yes, my wonderful film credits," he said with a laugh. "I was in every bad dancing film in the '80s, and there were a lot of them! There's actually a tap number in Exorcist II. I tap danced with Linda Blair and that's why I'm in there." Adding jovially: "Staying Alive was another huge flop."

Conversely, Limon has excelled during his 26-year tenure at the Welk Resort Theater. He highlighted his experiences there by sharing a favorite working memory, which happened just recently. "We were part of Gay Pride this year, I was really proud of that," he said. "It took three years to convince the Welk family to give us permission to do that."

Limon is also very pleased with the work that's gone into "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and is excited for audiences to see it, as he told us. "I think that theatre is supposed to enlighten and educate. Especially today with what's happening in the world," he said. "I think 'Kiss of the Spider Woman' is so powerful and so moving and the storyline is amazing and heartfelt."

"Kiss of the Spider Woman" runs from Friday, September 1 through Sunday, October 22. For tickets and more information call 888.802.7469 or go to welkresorts.com/ san-diego/theatre

Copyright Rage Monthly. For more articles from Rage visit www.ragemonthly.com


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