Seeing CHESS

CHESS - THE MUSICALLast 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.

Friends James, Cotton and Angus were also there. James has already reviewed the show, which covers a lot of what we all thought when we talked about the show over a drink afterwards.

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.

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5 Responses to “Seeing CHESS”

  1. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi IAN

    Lately I have been listening a great deal to an Elaine Paige CD called ‘From A Distance’. It is a great compilation CD from 1997 and it also includes a live version of ‘One Night In Bangkok’ and sung by Elaine Paige.

    In the linear notes of the CD booklet it stated information about one of the ‘Chess’ album songs which I didn’t know of before and was surprised by it.

    This is what it said:

    Elaine Paige richly deserves the title “The First Lady of British Musical Theatre”. As an actress and a producer she has been involved with some of the most successful West Ends musicals of the last two decades.

    In 1986 she appeared in ‘Chess’ and her duet with Barbra Dickson, ‘I Know Him So Well’ topped the British charts for four weeks and still remains in the Guinness Books of Records as the biggest selling record by a female duo.

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

  2. Mia Says:

    No shit that the Swedish version of Chess wasn’t the same at all. Not even the songs had the same meaning.

    Do you know if there exist a dvd or something of Chess with the original cast in London? I can’t seem to find it… Mail me if you know. 🙂

  3. Ian Cole Says:

    Hi Mia,

    No, there’s no recording of any kind of the London stage cast.

  4. Denise Schult Says:

    Our Company is staging “Chess” at The Hexagon Theatre, Reading
    from 27th – 31st October 2009
    Tickets available via our website.

  5. Denise Schult Says:

    BTW that is Reading, Berkshire, England

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