CHESS - The Musical

Kiss Me Kate8th-12th November 2011

The Stories ...

There have been nearly as many variations of the Musical version of "Chess", as variations of the game itself in any one tournement!

Sometimes, the American wins; other times, it's the Russian. Different locations, different songs, there is no one such thing as the show, "Chess - The Musical", but rather a family of related shows.

One thing is for certain: Chess contains some of the best loved music from the 1980s musical theatre, and with its dramatic juxtaposition of Classical Music and ABBA-style Rock, has more than enough to please everyone.


CHESS was written towards the end of the Cold War, when in 1979, the lyricist Tim Rice had the idea of illustrating the American/Soviet rivalry of the time through the world of international grandmaster Chess, somewhat inspired by the recent iconic clashes between the USA's Bobby Fischer and the USSR's Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov.

Previously, Rice had worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber on a number of hugely successful musicals, but the two men had fallen out with each other during the writing of "Cats", after Lloyd Webber discarded Rice's lyrics in favour of those written by show's director, Trevor Nunn.

So it was to the two "B"s from the 1970's Eurovision pop group, ABBA, that Rice turned for the musical composition. Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus responded by combining elements of Classical, Rock and Russian Folk music to produce one of the richest, most engaging and best-loved musical show scores of the 1980s. Numbers such as "One Night In Bangkok", "I Know Him So Well" and "Someone Else's Story" have ever since been firmly on the everyday playlists of radio stations and karaoke bars throughout the world, while songs including "The Story Of Chess", "The Soviet Machine" and the glorious and moving "Anthem" provide plenty of variety and emotion, and beautifully tell the story of a complicated love triangle, set against the cold war setting of KGB and CIA interference, dirty tricks, and, of course, the game of Chess.

Over the years since its first public performances in 1984, Chess has been revised, rewritten, rearranged and generally updated perhaps more times than any other musical show. The story has changed, numbers have been added, removed, and shuffled. The amateur performing license even contains explicit permission to adapt the score, and HAODS will be restoring an abridged version of the original Prologue and "Someone Else's Story", both of which are currently "out" of the show, as well as several new choral arrangements by Brian D Steel to replace material that is missing from the current published version of the score.

HAODS' cast will include Rob Felstead as "Frederick Trumper", an arrogant American Chess champion, Mark Freeman as "Anatoly Sergievsky", a sensitive Russian Chess champion, Siobhan McMahon as "Florence Vassy", a Hungarian-born "Chess second", who becomes their common love interest, Dave Hooker as "Arbiter", who oversees the Chess matches, Debby Field as "Svetlana", the Russian wife of Anatoly, as well as Tim Shepherd, Kevin Summers in other lead parts, together with a large company comprising two choirs, numerous extras and some pole dancers. Musical Direction is by Brian D Steel and Stage Direction and Choreography is by Yvonne Chadwell.

West Sussex County Times - 17 Nov 2011 - CHESS gets a Rave Review!

No need to say any more: let's put it into the hands of WSCT reviewer, Rachael Down, writing in the 17th November, 2011 edition of the paper ...