Chess - The Musical

by Benny Andersson, Tim Rice and Bjorn Ulvaeus

By arrangement with Three Knights Limited, The Schubert Organisation Inc and Robert Fox Limited, we are delighted to announce our autumn production will be the wonderful musical Chess. With huge hit numbers such as One Night in Bangkok and I Know Him so Well, we are sure this will be a fabulous entertainment.

This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Chess was written by the ABBA guys, Benny and Bjorn, and Tim Rice. It premiered in the West End (with Elaine Paige and Murray Head) in 1986 where it ran for three years before transferring to Broadway in a very much altered version. (Both versions have been recorded in full on YouTube so if you want to check this out make sure it’s the 1986 West End version you watch - although the sound and picture quality are terrible. There are also some ‘in concert’ versions on YouTube (the ‘young Josh Groban’ one is pretty good) but the Danish one (sung in English!) is good and is accurate to the show we’re doing, though only audio). Chess returned to London in 2018 starring Michael Ball and Alexandra Burke. The show includes chart topping numbers I Know Him So Well (Elaine Paige & Barbara Dickson) and One Night In Bangkok (Murray Head).

The story centres around a politically driven, Cold War-era chess tournament between two grandmasters, one American and the other Russian, and their fight over a woman who initially manages one, but then falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any real individuals, the character of the American grandmaster was loosely based on Bobby Fischer, while elements of the story may have been inspired by the chess careers of Russian grandmasters Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov.. Chess allegorically reflects the Cold War tensions present in the 1980s. The musical has been referred to as a metaphor for the whole Cold War, with the insinuation being made that the Cold War is itself a manipulative game. Released and staged at the height of the strong anti-communist agenda, Chess addressed and satirised the hostility of the international political atmosphere of the 1980s. So not a million laughs then! But it is a really, really great musical with lots of brilliant tunes (which is just as well as the whole show is sung), clever lyrics and a good story line. There are some fun moments - Merano is a thigh-slapping, lederhosen-clad number, the Merchandisers’ Song is upbeat, Kleine Franz is a drunken stein-waving number and the Embassy Lament is a bit of fun.

Application pdf

Download flyer

Click here to download a copy of the flyer for this production.

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Freddie - Tom Underwood

The American champion - a self-absorbed, fame-and-fortune-seeking, short-tempered, immature bad boy, who later matures and aids Anatoly a year after his own defeat. American accent. Audition song: Pity the Child.

Original

Anatoly - Nick Lund

The Russian champion - a troubled husband and father who despises the propaganda and politics of the tournament, eventually deciding to defect from his homeland, even at the cost of deserting his family. We tend to sympathise with him - probably because he appears a nicer guy than Freddie, but he is an adulterer and has had numerous affairs so he’s not all good. Mild Russian accent. Audition song: Anthem.

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Florence - Jean Warner

Freddie's strong-willed second and lover, born in Budapest, raised in England, and separated from her presumably captured or killed father during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Florence feels strained and frustrated by Freddie's brashness and childish behaviour and falls in love with Anatoly, eventually becoming his mistress. English accent. Audition song: Nobody’s Side.

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Arbiter - Emma Thompson

The coldly objective, no-nonsense referee of the championship tournament and the president of the International Chess Federation. Usually performed by a man, but no reason why this couldn’t be a woman. Accent - could be from anywhere. Audition song: Arbiter’s Song.

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Molokov - Mark Humble

Anatoly's conniving second who is apparently also a manipulative KGB agent. A threatening presence. Strong Russian accent. Audition song: Soviet Machine.

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Walter - Guy Warner

A financial administrator in Freddie's delegation, head of a US TV network and seemingly a secret CIA agent. American accent. Audition Song: Merano.

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Svetlana - Jenny Powell

Anatoly's estranged wife who, under Molokov's machinations, tries to persuade Anatoly to return to his homeland and family; although upset at Anatoly's betrayal, she also understands that Florence has given Anatoly something she cannot herself. Mild Russian accent. Audition song: Someone Else’s Story.

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Mayor and Chorus - Paul Foster

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TV Presenter and Chorus - Jamie Frier

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Civil Servant and Chorus - Faith Powell

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Civil Servant and Chorus - Sue Tregoning

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Civil Servant and Chorus - Ian Thomas

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Acolyte, Dancer and Chorus - Amy Horn

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Acolyte, Dancer and Chorus - Maddy Daly

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Acolyte and Chorus - Kieran Scully

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Acolyte and Chorus - Michael Senanayake

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Dancer and Chorus - Bethan Mardell

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Dancer and Chorus - Sasha Wong

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Dancer and Chorus - Melanie Silk

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Dancer and Chorus - Sarah Slater

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Chorus - Kay Frier

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Chorus - Anna Foster

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Viigand - Tony Frier

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Director and Choreographer - Tony Frier

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Musical Director - Chris Winslet

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Stage Manager - Linda Mardell

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Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

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Choreographer - Melanie Silk

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ASM andProps - Clare Pinnock