Jennifer Lopez to Star in Kiss of the Spider Woman Movie Musical
Dreamgirls and Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon will direct the Kander and Ebb musical on screen.
Recording artist and film star Jennifer Lopez will star in a screen version of Kander and Ebb's 1992 musical Kiss of the Spider Woman, according to a report in Variety. Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Beauty and the Beast) is directing. The independently financed project is reportedly seeking an unknown to play Molina, with production to begin as soon as next February.
Based on Manuel Puig‘s 1976 novel, Kiss of the Spider Woman centers on a pair of cell mates in an Argentine prison. Valentin is a political revolutionary while Molina is a gay window dresser who takes care of him by telling him the stories of his favorite films, many of which star his favorite movie star of all, Aurora. But the one story he fears telling is Aurora's greatest role: The Spider Woman.
The novel was adapted by Puig himself as a 1983 stage play, and as an Academy Award-winning film in 1985 starring Broadway favorite Raúl Juliá. John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Terrence McNally‘s stage musical version expanded the story somewhat, making Aurora a character who appears in a number of fantasy sequences. Chita Rivera created the role and won a Tony Award for her performance, later succeeded by Vanessa Williams in her Broadway debut.
The musical has been rumored to be making a return for some time in some form. A reading was held in 2015 with Audra McDonald, Alan Cumming, and Steven Pasquale. More recently, Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center was poised to stage a new revival as part of its Broadway Center Stage season, but it was ultimately pulled and replaced with the staging of Spamalot that has now transferred to Broadway. At the time, Kennedy Center representatives cited casting complications due to plans for a Broadway revival. A Broadway return for the work has yet to materialize.
The film would be Lopez's long-awaited musical theatre debut. She was previously set to star in a live TV production of Bye Bye Birdie for NBC, though that was ultimately thwarted due to scheduling conflicts. As early as 2016, she was eager to have a musical written for her by Hamilton writer Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lopez also has a development deal with Concord, whose Concord Theatricals controls licensing rights for Kiss of the Spider Woman. It's unclear if the upcoming film is a part of that partnership.
According to Variety, the project is being produced by Barry Josephson, Tom Kirdahy, Greg Yolen, and Matt Geller, with Lopez, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, and Benny Medina executive producing on behalf of Nuyorican Productions.