World Premiere of New Version of Chess to be Staged at London's Union Theatre; Casting Announced
Rice, who adapted the musical with Hugh Wooldridge for a concert version staged at the Royal Albert Hall in 2008, has given the Union's production team exclusive access to mount the first fully-staged production based on it. Rice has called this the definitive version of a much altered and often re-worked show.
The production is co-directed and staged by Chris Howell and Steven Harris, and will feature a cast of 16 including Sarah Gilbraith as Florence, Nadim Naaman as Anatoly, Tim Oxbrow as Freddie, Natasha J Barnes as Svetlana, Gillian Kirkpatrick as Molokov, Craig Rhys Barlow as Arbiter and Neil Stewart as Walter.
Musical arrangements are by Christopher Peake, with musical direction by Simon Lambert. It is designed by Ryan Dawson Laight, with lighting by Ben M. Rogers and fight direction by Andrew Ashenden and Annie Duggan. It is produced by Sasha Regan for The Union Theatre.
Chess, which involves a romantic love triangle between two players in a World Chess Championship, and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other, began life as a concept album that was released in 1984. It was first staged in a concert version later that year by the recording cast at London's Barbican Centre.
The world premiere of the first fully-staged production was to have been directed by Michael Bennett, but he withdrew owing to ill health (he would later die of an AIDS-related illness) and was replaced by Trevor Nunn, opening at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1986, where it ran for nearly three years. Nunn would subsequently stage a revised, far shorter-lived production on Broadway, where it opened at the Imperial Theatre in April 1988 and closed two months later, after 17 previews and 68 regular performances.