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Friday, July 27, 2012

The Chess 'In Concept' Concert in New York on Monday!

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,

Andy Propst has written a nice preview of the latest version of the classical Chess - The Musical in The Huffington Post. He writes (some excerpts): Not many musicals with Broadway runs of under two months end up getting starry concert performances. But then, Benny Andersson, Tim Rice and Björn Ulvaeus' Chess is no ordinary musical. Its debut as a concept album in 1984 catapulted the show and a couple of songs in particular (the driving dance tune "One Night in Bangkok" and the ballad "I Know Him So Well") into global consciousness. The show ultimately got a London production staged by Trevor Nunn in 1986, which ran for three years and recouped, which, as bookwriter/lyricist Rice points out, "is pretty impressive, bearing in mind how expensive it was."

Broadway, however, was a different story. The show, once again directed by Nunn and heavily revised (although still focusing on the rivalry between American and Russian chess champions and a romantic triangle that develops between them and the woman who is the American's second), lasted a mere 68 performances in 1988. And yet, after the show's abrupt closing, it's enjoyed two concert presentations in New York: One in 1989 at Carnegie Hall and a second in after return visit to New York City as a benefit for The Actors Fund in 2003, featuring Sutton Foster, Josh Groban, Julia Murney, Adam Pascal and Raúl Esparza. Further, Groban and Pascal reunited and were joined by Idina Menzel for a concert performance of the show in 2008 at London's Royal Albert Hall.

And now, the show's New York fans will get a third concert on Monday, July 30, once again benefiting The Actors Fund, and headlined by Robert Cuccioli (a Tony Award nominee for Jekyll and Hyde, Natascia Diaz (from such shows as Lennon and The Capeman) and Drew Sarich (seen on Broadway in Les Miz and starring in the Broadway-aimed Rocky the Musical). Christopher Martin, founding artistic director of Classic Stage Company, is helming the performance, which is being billed as the Chess "In Concept" Concert.

As the title indicates, the event will be a return to the show's origins as a concept album, one which Rice says, in retrospect, "was much more the 'finished version' than even we realized at the time." Martin concurs, saying "we're using the 1984 scenario that Tim outlined on the album. It's still the best and most focused. My feeling all along has been that they had it right in the first place with the recording. It only needed a bit of filling out. That's all we've done."

While returning to the basic outline of the concept recording, Martin has adopted some of the changes that have been made to the work for the stage. For instance, "The Story of Chess" has been shifted to the beginning of the show, although he adds, "It is reprised (in a shorter version) at the end to tie into the recording."

The Chess "In Concept" Concert will be held on Monday, July 30 at LaGuardia Arts at Lincoln Center. Click here for tickets and more information.

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