The Top 10 Broadway Musical Replacements

By Ben Rimalower
31 Aug 2013


Vanessa Williams
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Vanessa Williams as Aurora/the Spider Woman in Kiss of the Spider Woman

I was lucky enough to see Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman several times. In a way, it spoiled me by raising my expectations of what a star could do and be, to the point where most performers disappoint me, as so few can equal Rivera's agile command of the stage and generous commitment to her audience, let alone her talent. Vanessa Williams cannot give Rivera a run for her money in any of those categories and, not being a fan of the kind of pop music Williams is known for, I was extremely skeptical going to see her acclaimed performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman. I wound up becoming a major fan. Williams is a gifted actor and singer and, as she later proved to a wider audience on television in "Ugly Betty" and "Desperate Housewives," she is a fabulous diva who can integrate camp, glamour and high style into her work without any compromise of her character's integrity and without any sacrifice of believability or truth. This was on wonderful display in Kiss of the Spider Woman, along with excellent dancing and a dynamic sensuality that helped Williams make her own mark.