Last night my partner and I saw an amateur production of CHESS here in Sydney. The musical was staged at the Theatre Royal, the very same theatre that hosted the Australian premiere run in 1990, and produced by the Balmain Light Opera Company (BLOC).
I realised upon arriving at the theatre that this was to be only the second time I had ever seen CHESS on stage. I saw it during that first Sydney season, but have missed the many amateur productions that have played around Sydney since then. I also missed the Melbourne “revival” production in Melbourne in 1997 due to its early closing.
There are some great songs in CHESS, and an interesting story, despite the frequent criticism of that aspect. The musical deserves a proper rethink and restaging – not this version, not the concert version that was held in London last week, and not the 2002 Stockholm version, which ditched most of the upbeat songs, and was frankly quite dreary (on the evidence of the CHESS på svenska CD and DVD).
But it seems like there are at least three conflicting visions for CHESS – Benny and Björn’s (CHESS på svenska), Tim Rice’s (CHESS in Concert), and this continuing touring version.