Watch: Chita Rivera, "Kiss of the Spider Woman," 1993 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

You do not understand how long I have been trying to find a clip of this performance from the 1993 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

For one thing, I'm convinced this singular Chita Rivera performance is why I became so heavily involved in theater and horror. It's beautifully done with just enough of a menacing approach to make it totally inappropriate for the occasion.

Whoever greenlit a musical about political prisoners in South America escaping into a fantasy world of a silver-screen femme fatale to take their minds off the horrible torture they are undergoing to perform for a big family event was completely out of their mind. Yes, Kiss of the Spider Woman is a wonderful novel that beget a wonderful film that beget a wonderful stageshow, but it doesn't exactly scream nationally-televised parade. Unlike most other Broadway performances, this was clearly filmed in a studio with the oval of Chita Rivera filmed in front of a blue screen (or the '93 equivalent, I'm pretty sure it was blue screen) superimposed on a clipart-quality black and white spiderweb.

Also noteworthy is how it appears Chita Rivera was actually recorded singing this song live since the performance is different from the cast recording of the show. Stranger still is how the cast recording was released before this performance. Meaning, at some point, the song was made less horrifying. On the cast recording, the "s" is "kiss" and "mist" is almost always held as a hissing sound before the chorus (but in a different way than the telecast, more subtle), and the song's verses are almost whispered in a threatening manner. Listen for yourself

The orchestration is great. I really am obsessed with the triplets before the verses--they're so much fun to play--and the idea of a waltz inspired by a black widow film. The timpani roll is breathtaking right before the chorus.

This bizarre black, white, and ball-gowned performance of the titular song of a very not-for-children show has been a lifelong obsession. I perform this song at gigs and have even auditioned with it on the strength of this performance (neither situation tends to go well, but it always feels like a good idea at the time). Just imagine an eight year old coming off of his first theatrical performance watching this on a 16" television set with a VCR over and over until the tape broke. It explains a whole lot.

Video after the jump.

State of the Blog Address: 20 February 2010

Listen: "21 Guns" performed by the cast of American Idiot