CHESS In Concert

REPRISE RECORDS TO RELEASE CHESS IN CONCERT ON DVD, TWO-DISC CD, AND SINGLE-DISC CD ON JUNE 16TH

JOSH GROBAN AND IDINA MENZEL STAR IN A PBS GREAT PERFORMANCES SPECIAL OF THE REVIVAL OF BRITISH MUSICAL CHESS ON JUNE 17TH

May 29, 2009, Burbank, CA — PBS’s Great Performances will air the spectacular London concert revival of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ 1986 cult musical Chess, featuring Reprise Records’ Josh Groban and Idina Menzel as Chess in Concert on Wednesday, June 17th at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings).

Reprise Records will release Chess in Concert as a two-CD set, a single audio CD, and as a stand-alone DVD to retail beginning June 16th, 2009. In addition, a three-disc Special Edition, which includes the two-CD set plus the DVD, will be available exclusively through Groban’s official website www.joshgroban.com, his official fanclub website www.friendsofjoshgroban.com, and Menzel’s official website: www.idinamenzel.com. This limited-edition version includes music and video from the performance, a full-color booklet with cast photos and a synopsis by composer Tim Rice, sheet music for “Anthem” and “I Know Him So Well,” plus an MP3 download of the two-CD audio content to be delivered on June 16th.

Groban and Menzel led the cast in this very special 21st anniversary performance of the British cult musical at London’s Royal Albert Hall in May 2008. The book and lyrics are by Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, The Lion King) and the music is by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (Mamma Mia!). Also featured are the West End Chorus and the City of London Philharmonic with Stephen Disley playing the great organ of the Royal Albert Hall. 

www.joshgroban.com

www.idinamenzel.com

 To view the trailer:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4020141001/?bctid=ref:A10302B00008738924     

Source: Cinemedia Promotions

See also: chess.warnerbrosrecords.com

Advertisements

20 Responses to “CHESS In Concert”

  1. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian!

    It’s Chess!

    Kind Regards
    Samuel inglles

    http://www.2ue.com.au/timwebster

    Sir Tim Rice with 2UE’s Tim Webster

    Start with songs from Joseph, Jesus Christ Superstar or Evita and follow with the work of Chess, Aladin and The Lion King and you’ll understand just how close the lyrics of Sir Tim Rice have been interweaved into our lives.

  2. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.booktopia.com.au/elaine-paige-memories/prod9781840028522.html

    Elaine Paige: Memories
    By: Elaine Paige
    Click to Enlarge Retail Price: $59.95
    Booktopia Price $53.96
    ISBN: 9781840028522 Format: Hardcover
    Published: June 2009
    All prices in Australian Dollars Stock Availability
    This title is not in stock at the Booktopia Warehouse and needs to be ordered from one of our suppliers. Click here to see “In Stock” titles.

    Elaine Paige, the undisputed First Lady of Musical Theatre celebrates 40 years on the stage this year. Memories is the remarkable story of her own life, on and off the stage, in words and pictures. She takes us through her extraordinary career from her earliest stage appearances, to her many starring roles in some of the biggest musicals of the modern era, including Hair, Grease, Evita, Cats, Chess, Piaf and Sunset Boulevard.
    ISBN: 9781840028522
    ISBN-10: 1840028521
    Number Of Pages: 144
    Publisher: THEATRE COMMUNICATIONS GR
    Format: Hardcover
    Language: English
    Dimensions (cm): 10.6 x 7.6 x 0.7
    Weight (kg): 1.94

  3. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/3023422/Elaine-Paige-Sex-drugs-and-musicals.html

    Elaine Paige: Sex, drugs and musicals
    As Elaine Paige celebrates an unexpectedly riotous 40-year stage career, she tells Christopher Hastings why there’s still no one waiting for her in the wings.

    By Christopher Hastings
    Published: 7:10PM BST 20 Sep 2008

    Previous1 of 3 ImagesNext Elaine Paige: The demands of her career have meant she has never married Photo: DAVID ROSE
    Before landing the lead role in the original Evita in 1978, Elaine Paige was on the verge of quitting: ‘I was fed up with the whole thing’ she admits Photo: AP
    Elaine Paige and Jason Scott Lee rehearse their roles in ‘The King And I’ in 2000 Photo: PA
    It is 1968 and a 20-year-old Elaine Paige is running naked across the lawn of a luxury hotel in Denmark. She is joined in her night-time sprint by some of her fellow cast members from the original West End production of Hair, which has just opened to great acclaim.

    “It was a ludicrous thing to do,” she recalls, “but we were all a bit stoned or had had too much to drink. People always say that if you remember the Sixties, you weren’t there. But I was there and I do remember it, and it was great,” she laughs. “It was wild and rebellious, and there was drink and drugs. I did the lot, darling! Absolutely everything.”

    Related Articles
    Summer of love (revisited): Why we love music festivals
    Getting naked with Patricia Hodge
    £3bn cost of alcohol to NHS every year
    The writing’s on the wall for Banksy and his secret past
    Down and out with Annabel CroftGetting drunk, abusing illegal substances and appearing naked in public are not things one normally associates with the First Lady of British musicals. “You didn’t have to go nude,” she says of her stint in Hair. “You have to remember I am from a suburban north London background, and it was a bit of a leap for me. I did it because I was being ribbed by the rest of the cast for being pathetic and wimpish. It was terrifying. And then I did it, and wondered what all the fuss was about.”

    Dressed down in jeans and heels, Paige, now 60, recalled her moment of madness while researching her new memoirs, written to mark the 40th anniversary of her West End debut. “I can’t believe it has been 40 years – it’s gone in the blink of an eye. I see young kids coming through in musical theatre now and I suddenly realise, ‘Yep, I have been around for a little while.’ ”

    Her CV reads like a history of the post-war musical. She was the first to play the iconic roles of Eva Peron in Evita, Grizabella in Cats and Florence in Chess. Her signature tunes include Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina, Memory and I Know Him So Well, her chart-topping duet with Barbara Dickson. Lord Lloyd-Webber regards her recording of As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard, in which she played the fading Hollywood starlet Norma Desmond, as probably the best performance of any one of his songs.

    Despite such triumphs, Paige insists she went into acting precisely because she lacked confidence. It was her father who convinced her to go to stage school after she performed in a production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. “What I loved about acting is that I could disappear and be someone else. I didn’t have to be me. I was never very confident as Elaine.”

    Before landing the lead role in the original Evita in 1978, Paige was on the verge of quitting. “I was fed up with the whole thing,” she admits. “I couldn’t get the parts I wanted. I couldn’t afford new clothes, I had holes in my boots, I couldn’t go out to eat. I was coming up to 29 and thought I wasn’t good enough. Evita saved me.”

    Overnight she became a household name, and followed up her success with lead roles in Cats and Chess. But by the 1990s she was no longer being offered roles she could make her own – so she joined existing shows, such as Piaf and Sunset Boulevard, to equal acclaim. It was during Sunset that Paige was diagnosed with breast cancer.

    “I knew there was something wrong for nine months, but was being told that everything was OK. It was only when I eventually put my foot down and said I wanted a second test that it was discovered I had breast cancer.”

    Despite having an operation and radiotherapy, she refused to reveal her condition. She also did not miss a show. “I kept going and gave my most marvellous performances because you suddenly realise how vital life is. If it hadn’t been slow-growing, I wouldn’t be here now.”

    The demands of Paige’s career have meant she has never married. “Yes, I regret in a way not having my own family, not having kids. I never imagined I wouldn’t have a family. But I wouldn’t have had this career if I had done that. I am quite single-minded. I love the idea of waking up and having breakfast over
    the newspapers, rather than making idle conversation with someone. Is that such a crime?”

    The closest she has come to settling down was with Sir Tim Rice, with whom she had a public 11-year affair throughout the 1980s, but which fizzled out after he failed to leave his wife; both Paige and Lady Rice eventually left him. “But that was another lifetime ago,” Paige demurs.

    “The wedding bells idea did chime for me – but you have to remember he was extremely married at the time. And still is.” His divorce was filed in 1990 but has never been finalised.

    Despite her tribulations, Paige has a highly developed sense of fun. She jokes about having cosmetic surgery and Botox (“Yes, yes, yes, but I am not going to tell you what”), and has self-deprecating anecdotes on tap. “I played the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last year and told the audience I loved coming to China because it’s the only place where I can look people in the eye. [She is 5ft tall.] It didn’t go down very well.”

    In addition to her memoirs, Paige’s 40th anniversary celebrations will include concerts on three continents. Although she can’t wait to hit the road again, she isn’t worried if she never takes on another West End lead role. “I’m at a stage in my life when, to be honest, the idea of signing a contract to do eight performances a week doesn’t appeal. I’ve had the most wonderful career in musical theatre. But I have a life now – and I want to keep it.”

    Memories by Elaine Page (Oberon Books) is available from Telegraph Books for £18.00 + £1.25 p&p.
    Call 0870 428 4115 or go to books.telegraph.co.uk

    Elaine Page will be discussing her book at the National Theatre, London, on Tuesday

  4. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.westendtheatre.com/reviews/?p=97

    Chess in Concert to be released; Elaine Paige & Susan Boyle news

    Exciting news for fans of the musical Chess. Following the cult musical’s brief concert revival at the Royal Albert Hall in London in December 2008, the show will be released on DVD and CD by Warner Music (16 June in USA and Canada, 15 June rest of world).
    The concert version of the hit 80s show will also be broadcast by public TV station PBS in the USA from 17 June.
    Written by Tim Rice and ABBA’s Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus, the recording will air as part of PBS’ Great Performances strand. Chess originally played at the Prince of Edward Theatre in London in the late 1980s and also enjoyed a brief run on Broadway.
    Chess in Concert was a star-studded two nighter at London’s prestigious venue, starring an acclaimed list of music talent including Idina Menzel as Florence, Adam Pascal as Frederick Trumper, Josh Groban as Anatoly Sergievsky, Kerry Ellis as Svetlana, David Bedella as Molokov, Marti Pellow as The Arbiter and Clarke Peters as Walter.
    Music was provided by the City of London Philharmonic and the 100-voice West End Chorus and songs from the musical include “One Night in Bangkok,” and “I Know Him So Well”, the later proving a recording hit for Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson.
    On the Chess in Concert website Tim Rice writes that “I hope that the work I was fortunate enough to create with them [Anderson and Ulvaeus] will one day be recognised as a full part of their brilliant legacy.”
    The Chess in Concert Director and Concert Adapter was Hugh Wooldridge, with Musical Direction by Mark Warman and Conductor and Musical Supervisor David Firman. The show was directed for TV by David Horn and produced by Austin Shaw.
    • Official site for Chess in Concert at the Royal Albert Hal
    ———
    Editor’s comment:
    Elaine Paige starred in the original London production of Chess, and recently said on the US show Entertainment Tonight that she’d love to sing with Britain’s Got Talent megastar Susan Boyle. Watching the clip of the original video for I Know Him So Well, below, you can see how that would work.

  5. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/theatre-in-wales/2009/02/24/elaine-paige-enjoys-her-memories-91466-22991983/

    Elaine Paige enjoys her Memories
    Feb 24 2009 by Gavin Allen, South Wales Echo
    ELAINE PAIGE is an OBE, a respected BBC Radio Two presenter and is often referred to as the first lady of musical theatre, so it’s a bit of a surprise when, recalling her youth, she says, “sex was rife.”
    There is a context to her comments, though, as she is coming to Cardiff next week on her Memories tour.
    The tour is promoting the album of the same name which accompanies her autobiography, again called Memories, and making it took her back through a 40-year career to a starting point full of freedom and potential.
    “Well, you know how they always say about the ’60s, ‘if you can remember it then you weren’t there?’,” she laughs.
    “Well I was there, I definitely remember it, and I had a great time.”
    “Being in my 20s then, of course I had a great time. There was no such thing as Aids, women had just got the pill, it was a great time to be young.”
    In fact out of the not-so-holy trinity of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, it seems she tried them all.
    “I did try drugs and it was most enjoyable,” she confesses.
    “Nothing too extreme of course.”
    The professional backdrop to her 60s sojourn was the first British production of the counter-cultural musical extravaganza, Hair.
    “I feel that now the message we were trying to bring to the world with Hair might be having something of an impact.
    “We were trying to encourage openness, dialogue instead of conflict, a new way of looking at the world.”
    While Paige, pictured, has been happy to revisit the past, she doesn’t want to stay there. She is a lady who has continued to succeed in her career because she has always advanced, but the book, album and tour felt like the right way to mark a career milestone.
    “I realised that it was 40 years since I started in the industry and it came as a bit of a shock to be honest,” she says of why she embarked on the heavily pictorial autobiography.
    “The reason the book is laid out like it is really has to do with the fact that I have so much memorabilia, and family photos and all the stuff I have collected over the years.
    “I got it out of storage and went through it all, which I was expecting to be just ghastly by the way, and realised that I had to think of some way to use all of this material, but to do it in a slightly different way.
    “So that was why we decided to do the book in the picture-based format. I ended up having a lovely time sifting through all my old memories.”
    Despite her still-burning love for the stage, Paige hasn’t been performing in as many productions of late and wonders how many more roles she might take on.
    “It reached a point where I was only being offered parts that were not interesting to me,” she says.
    “I don’t like simply doing the same thing over and over, I like to look for new challenges rather than to be locked into something for three months of a year. You can’t be in a show if you don’t have that burning desire to be there every single night.
    “Perhaps doing this tour was a reaction to that realisation that I might not take on another musical theatre production at this point in my life.”
    Elaine Page will be performing at St David’s Hall, Cardiff on March 4. Tickets cost £29.50-£32.50 from 029 2087 8444.

  6. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.dailypost.co.uk/leisure/entertainment-news/2008/06/20/elaine-paige-opens-llangollen-eisteddfod-55578-21110971/

    Elaine Paige opens Llangollen Eisteddfod
    Jun 20 2008 By Debra Greenhouse

    NORTH Wales will get a sneak preview of the dazzling new anniversary show by West End and Broadway star Elaine Paige, as she opens Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod next month.

    The queen of musical theatre will perform songs from shows she has starred in over a lifetime on stage. This year marks the 40th anniversary of her West End debut in box office sensation Hair and her new show was created to include favourites from her many appearances since, taking centre stage in global hits like Evita, Cats, Chess and Piaf.

    The anniversary is officially in September and will mark the start of a year of celebration concerts around the world, taking her through until autumn 2009.

    But North Wales audiences get to enjoy the thrilling musical programme first. International Eisteddfod organisers are delighted at having achieved such a coup.

    Elaine said: “I’ve been working on this for months and the Eisteddfod date will be the first time I perform the whole show live.”

    She follows a long line of luminaries, including Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Dame Shirley Bassey, who have wowed Eisteddfod audiences over recent years.

    Elaine last performed in Wales with Bryn Terfel at his Faenol Festival in 2003: “It was fabulous, I’m really looking forward to making a return visit to Wales,” she said.

    She fondly remembers idyllic childhood holidays in Wales with her family: “We’d visit most summers, touring, staying in B&Bs, cottages, farmhouses, I loved it, it’s such beautiful countryside.”

    Her visit will be short this time, with such a hectic work schedule ahead. As well as concerts, she is working on a book, to mark the anniversary and hoped to be out in the autumn.

    “It’s mainly pictures, with some anecdotes by me. It’s been a joy to put together, evoking many memories, I still find it amazing I’ve appeared in so many landmark shows.

    “I had no set plan, but I have been there at the right time on many occasions. My West End debut coincided with a Renaissance in musical theatre in Britain, the time when Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were coming to the fore. The opportunity to star in shows of such calibre was what any musical theatre star could wish for.”

    Her Eva Peron role in heart-tugging Evita provided an unrivalled forum for her singing talent and dramatic stage presence, making the world sit up and take notice.

    “I’ll always be grateful for such great roles, combining my love of music and acting,” said the star who is now looking forward to many new challenges.

    “I don’t think I’ll be doing as much musical theatre in future, it’s tiring doing eight shows a week.” for such long runs.” Lately I’ve been enjoying dining out with friends, going to the cinema, even the theatre, something I’ve not had chance to do before. I love a good play.”

    Her Radio 2 show centres around the songs from the shows and plus interviews with long time heroes and heroines of stage and screen.

    “I was unsure when the BBC asked me to present it, I didn’t know how people would react to me as a radio presenter, but they’ve really taken to it and I’m enjoying every minute.”

    Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, July 8-13. Tickets on 01978 862001 or book online at http://www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk

  7. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://blogs.usaweekend.com/whos_news/2009/06/broadway-star-idina-menzel-talks-chess-in-concert.html

    June 17, 2009Broadway star Idina Menzel talks ‘Chess in Concert’
    Posted by Lorrie Lynch
    In the world of modern-day musical theater, Idina Menzel is in a class all her own. The New York native originated the roles of performance artist Maureen in Rent (1994) and the witch Elphaba in Wicked (2003) on Broadway, and Menzel is starring in a new musical production that’s just a bit different. Alongside her Rent co-star Adam Pascal and Grammy-nominated singer Josh Groban, Menzel is a major player in Chess in Concert, a performance of the 1984 musical — with music by ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and lyrics by Tim Rice — that was recorded in London’s Royal Albert Hall last May. (Check out the trailer below.) Released yesterday on CD and DVD and to be broadcast on PBS beginning tonight, Chess casts Menzel, 38, as Florence, a Hungarian woman who’s caught between a cocky American chess champ (Pascal) and his Soviet rival (Groban) circa 1979. Brian Truitt interviewed Menzel — who is expecting her first child, a boy, with husband Taye Diggs in September — so click read more to find what she had to say about Chess, her most famous roles and a rumored Wicked movie.

    Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Joan Marcus

    Before this project came about, how familiar were you with Chess?
    I wasn’t so much familiar with it. I had never seen it, but I had heard some of the songs back in my college days – a lot of people would sing music from Chess in classes. I had a real respect for the ABBA guys and Tim Rice, and I wanted to work with Josh Groban again.

    How would Josh Groban do in a real stage musical?
    He’s beyond talented and his voice goes on and on for days. He’s so emotionally connected to what he sings, and he really connected on an actor’s level as well — it wasn’t just about singing the acrobatic notes. I just adore him. He’s a lot funnier than people give him credit for because he has such a serious image.

    I never knew One Night in Bangkok, which was a radio hit in the 1980s, was from Chess until I watched the DVD.
    Chess is one of the last times that songs from a musical became pop hits. I really respect and admire that about that show because it’s something I yearn for in the shows I’ve been in – Rent and Wicked, which are very contemporary and very pop – and yet the radio just won’t play that kind of music. There’s a big disparity now between pop music and theater music, whereas in the past, pop music was from the theater. It’s a huge accomplishment on Benny and Bjorn’s part to have gotten that music played and to be so successful.

    Your latest solo album, I Stand, came out last year. Are you working on new songs?
    I’m working on baby right now, but I’m always compiling new music for another album and preparing for more concerts when I feel ready to get back into it and I can fit back into my clothes. In the meantime, I’m always trying to look for and develop a new musical. It’s really important to me to keep originating roles in the theater. I’ve taken the edge off the ambition right now, just trying to be content with hanging out with my husband and being excited about making a baby. You’re just spinning wheels so far for so long, trying to be successful and make the most out of all these opportunities, that it takes a lot of Zen to sit back and be in the moment and enjoy what we’re making now.

    When you get back in the game, do you want to do more strict acting in screen roles?
    I’d like to do it all, really. That’s my thing these days, not feeling like I have to choose one or the other. I’ve been lucky that most of the roles or the music or whatever I’m doing at the time seems to lessons I need to learn in my life. Not to sound all holy-moley, but when I was in Rent, I learned so much about eight shows a week and pacing my show and the message of the show, which was living in the moment. We were all really young so it was about not getting ahead of ourselves or getting too high on ourselves. And Wicked was about embracing your strengths and uniqueness – at that time, I was going through some stuff where I really needed to step outside of myself.

    You played Maureen in the big-screen version of Rent and I’ve heard talk of a Wicked movie in development. Is that something you’d want to do, or are you wicked tired of the role?
    I would love to do it, but they keep telling us it’s years away. Therefore, the chances of me maintaining my youthful glow I hope won’t be so bad, but I’m not hanging on to that. The green makeup could cover a lot of imperfections, but we’ll see what happens.

  8. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://community.post-gazette.com/blogs/popi/archive/2009/04/10/pascal-and-chess-concert-headed-for-dvd.aspx

    Pascal’s ‘Chess’ concert headed for DVD
    “Rent” comes to town on Tuesday, and so I interviewed Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, the original Broadway stars who are now on tour with the show. But it wasn’t all “Rent” all the time.

    I asked Pascal some none-“Rent” related questions about “Chess in Concert,” which to me sounds a couple of magical nights: On May 12 and 13 last year at the Royal Albert Hall, London, two SRO crowds saw Adam as American chess champion Freddie Trumper, Josh Groban as his Cold War rival, Anatoly Sergievsky and Idina Menzel as Florence in the concert version of the musical “Chess.”

    I first saw the show in London, my only trip there and as part of Chris Rawson’s ShowPlane group in 1986, so the musical has a special place in my heart. The musical features story and lyrics by Tim Rice and music by the ABBA guys, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson.

    PBS is supposed to air a film version of the concert sometime this year and a DVD version of “Chess in Concert” will be released soon as well. Pascal said he hoped there would be more concerts like the one in London.

    “I had done this character, Freddie, in another version of Chess in Concert in 2003 or ’04 with Josh Groban, who plays the Anatoly character as well, and I fell in love with it back then, so I was thrilled that they decided to do another concert version of it,” Pascal said. “Obviously it’s a great score.”

    The story (this is from press notes) “involves a romantic triangle between two players in a World Chess Championship, and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the characters’ personalities are loosely based on those of Victor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer.”

    “Chess” actually had a hit song that charted in the U.S. You may remember hearing the show’s original star, Murray Head, on “One Night in Bangkok,” As always, there are videos on YouTube of Pascal in the role as well, in rehearsals for the benefit concert.

    While we were talking about “Rent,” Pascal threw in a shout out to director Chris Columbus, whose film version of “Rent” was not a critical favorite but had a successful afterlife on DVD.

    “The audiences have been incredible and incredibly consistent. They show up and they want to say hi after the show and they’re waiting at the stage door for pictures and autographs and stuff. And they’re really turning out in large numbers and its incredible, really great. And you know what’s really interesting is that the movie has brought a lot of people to the show. A lot of people I meet have only seen the movie at this point, and so I’m thrilled that that’s the case. Especially for Chris Columbus, who directed the movie and who I love. I feel he kind of got shafted with the reviews for the film and I think he did an amazing job. I love to see that there are avid fans for the film.”

    ——————————————————————————–

  9. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/chess-in-concert/preview-of-chess-in-concert/783/

    June 4th, 2009
    Chess in Concert
    Preview of Chess in Concert

    Chess in Concert ~ Interview with Josh Groban
    Stevie Wonder ~ Preview of Stevie Wonder: Live at Last
    In The Heights ~ Musical Numbers, Dance, and Interviews
    In The Heights ~ Creating and Staging the Musical
    Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood ~ Preview of Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood: Live From Madison Square Garden
    King Lear ~ Adaptations in Film
    King Lear ~ King Lear Films
    Hitman: David Foster & Friends ~ Introduction
    “Company” – Examining Social Attitudes and Stereotypes ~ Organizers for Students
    “Company” – Examining Social Attitudes and Stereotypes ~ Procedures for Teachers
    Wicked’s Idina Menzel and Rent’s Adam Pascal join Great Performances favorite, internationally renowned vocalist Josh Groban in a spectacular London concert revival of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ 1986 cult musical Chess, premiering Wednesday, June 17 at 9 p.m. (ET) on Great Performances (check local listings). Presented by THIRTEEN in 5.1 digital surround sound on PBS HD, and featuring diamond-sharp lyrics by Tim Rice (Evita, The Lion King), the hit-filled production (“One Night in Bangkok,” “I Know Him So Well,” “The Anthem”) was recorded in performance at Royal Albert Hall.

    Watch a preview:

    Great Performances is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

    “A fantastic night” proclaimed musiccomh.com, while thestage.co asked “Is there an original pop musical stuffed with better melodies?” neatly echoing Time’s initial 1988 assessment: “One of the best rock scores ever produced.” Adding to the excitement is the 50-piece City of London Philharmonic, led by David Firman, and the 100-voice West End Chorus.

    ABBA composers Andersson and Ulvaeus created their first musical theater work more than a decade before striking pay dirt with their phenomenon, Mamma Mia. It was the inspired idea of lyricist/librettist Rice to match the pair with his cold war tale: the East/West Chess Championship and the romantic triangle that develops between the Russian and American competitors and the beautiful woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Chart topper Groban (Awake, Closer, Noel) sings the Russian player, Anatoly; Rent Tony and Drama Desk Award-nominee Pascal is the American Freddie, and Tony-winner Menzel (Wicked Witch Elphaba) is Florence, the woman between them.

    Chess in Concert is a co-production of THIRTEEN, Reprise Records and Peppermint Pictures, in association with Heartaches Ltd. Directed for telecast by David Horn and produced by Austin Shaw, it was recorded at Albert Hall May 12, 2008. Hugh Wooldridge staged the concert adaptation.

    Josh Groban includes among his many Great Performances appearances Josh Groban in Concert (2002), Josh Groban at the Greek (2004) and last December’s David Foster & Friends. Adam Pascal was most recently seen in the series’ My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs (2001). Chess in Concert marks Idina Menzel’s Great Performances debut.

    Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS.

  10. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://aoifemulholland.blogspot.com/2008/05/aoife-mulholland-in-chess-at-royal.html

    Aoife In Chess At The Royal Albert Hall

    On May 12th & 13th 2008 Aoife took to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall in Sir Tim Rice’s musical concert production of ‘Chess’. Along with Aoife were big name stars, such as Idina Menzel, Kerry Ellis and Josh Groban, and a further cast of around 200. Aoife was one of the 10 main featured soloists, the ‘Chess Company’ cast members, (nearly all West-End Leads themselves).

    Synopsis: Chess involves a romantic triangle between two players in a World Chess Championship, and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the characters’ personalities are loosely based on those of Victor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer – Set during the Cold War, Freddie Trumper, The American, is playing a world championship chess match against Anatoly Sergievsky, The Russian. With Freddie is Florence Vassy, his chess second whose relationship with Freddie goes beyond professional boundaries. Anatoly’s chess second is Alexander Molokov, who also happens to be connected to the upper levels of the KGB. Anatoly has a wife, Svetlana, but their relationship has become more and more strained over the years as Anatoly became more successful and more disillusioned with the political environment he is trapped in . . .

    Josh Groban’s Short Interview On His Performance In Chess

    The Arbiter And The Soloists: The Story Of Chess (youtube hosted)

    Chess In Concert is available to purchase in DVD format, a CD1 Highlight Disc And a 2CD Full Concert version. Purchase from companies like Amazon, HMV and Dress Circle etc . . .

    _________________

    Photos Of Aoife From Her Performance In Chess

    ____________________

    Comments On the Night By Those Who Went To The Concert

    The Chess Company (soloists). Grant Anthony, Christopher Colley, Tiffany Graves, Leila Benn Harris, David Michael Johnson, Debbie Kurup, Aoife Mulholland, Andrew Playfoot, Jon Robyns and Tabitha Webb.

    Although most focus on reviews has been on the main 5 cast members (of course) people also on the night had very good words to say about the soloists, and particularly Aoife, who was sang on many of the big numbers, acompanying Idina and Josh (especially on ‘Where I Want To Be’ and ‘Nobody’s Side’ where she is very prominant).

    “Aoife was brilliant, looking gorgeous in a black suit, white shirt, black tie. She was mostly on the right hand side of the stage for a lot of the first act, and later she came on in an orange dress. She had great facial expressions and moved well, and there were points where she was pretty much centre stage.”

    “The Chess Company line up included some fantastic performers, they each got some solo vocals and were outstanding, most surprising was Aoife backing Idina and Josh on some of their solos. From the Chess Company Aoife, Chris and Debbie really stood out.”

    “And the Company was fantastic – so nice to hear Aoife Mulholland. The choir was also great fun to watch and listen to: it is used really as an additional character, especially in Act I.”

    “A little word about Aoife. It is the first time that I have seen her on stage, and she has magic. It is difficult to take your eyes off her . . . she is splendid.”

    ____________________

    Aoife did incredibly well in her audition to be on the cast list in this production of Chess. To be on stage, at such a venue, with such a strong line up of world famous female talent is remarkable and she was rightly proud of this, commenting: “I saw an amateur production of Chess about ten years ago and fell in love with the music. I’m a big fan of Abba and Tim Rice. I’m lucky to be working with them.”

    CAST

    Introduced: by Sir Tim Rice

    Principle Cast:
    Josh Groban as Anatoly Sergievsky
    Idina Menzel as Florence
    Adam Pascal as Frederick Trumper
    David Bedella as Molokov
    Kerry Ellis as Svetlana
    Clarke Peters as Walter
    Marti Pellow as The Arbiter

    Chess in Concert Company:
    Grant Anthony
    Christopher Colley
    Tiffany Graves
    Leila Benn Harris
    David Michael Johnson
    Debbie Kurup
    Aoife Mulholland
    Andrew Playfoot
    Jon Robyns
    Tabitha Webb

    Cantabile – [London Quartet]
    Choir – 100 Strong – ‘The West End Chorus’
    Orchestra – 50 Piece – ‘City Of London Philharmonic’
    RAH Organ – played by Stephen Disley

    Artistic Direction: Lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. Conductor, David Firman. Musical Director, Mark Warman. Choral Director, Stuart Morley. Choreographers, Kevan Allen and Andrew Wright. Animation, Rehana Khan. Director & Adaptation, Hugh Wooldridge.

    VIDEOS OF THE NIGHT

    Josh Groban And Soloists: Where I Want To Be (youtube hosted)

    Idina And Soloists: Nobody’s Side (youtube hosted)

    PHOTOS OF THE NIGHT (Click On Image To Enlarge)

    *
    ***** Josh Groban as Anatoloy ************ Kerry Ellis as Svetlana

    *
    **** Idina Menzel as Florence **************** Josh and Idina Kiss

    *
    ** Josh and Kerry – End Game ************ Sir Tim Rice – Introduction

    *
    ** Davide Badella as Molokov ************* Adam Pascal as Freddie
    _________________________________________

    Official London Theatre Guide

    Stars line up to play Chess

    03 Mar 2008

    Marti Pellow, David Bedella and Clarke Peters have been added to the star-studded line up of Chess In Concert, a two-night concert performance of Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson’s musical at the Royal Albert Hall on 12-13 May. The trio joins a cast that already contains Wicked leading ladies Idina Menzel and Kerry Ellis, recording artist Josh Groban and Broadway star Adam Pascal. Also now confirmed in the cast are Tiffany Graves, Debbie Kurup, Leila Benn Harris and Aoife Mulholland.

    Pellow (who plays The Arbiter) is the lead singer of pop band Wet Wet Wet, whose string of hits came predominantly in the 1980s and 90s. Among those chart-toppers, the band’s 1994 hit Love Is All Around spent 15 weeks at number one in the UK singles charts, after which Pellow allegedly asked for it to be removed from sale. Bedella (Molokov) is best known in the West End for playing Satan in the National Theatre production of Jerry Springer – The Opera in 2003, for which he won the 2004 Best Actor in a Musical Laurence Olivier Award, and Frank N Furter in the 2006 revival of The Rocky Horror Show. Bedella is also known to Holby City viewers for playing short and sexy surgeon Carlos Fashola in the hospital soap.

    Peters (Walter) was last in the West End playing Porgy in Trevor Nunn’s production of Porgy And Bess at the Savoy in 2006. His extensive list of previous West End credits includes The Witches Of Eastwick, Chicago, Simply Heavenly, The Iceman Cometh and Five Guys Named Moe, which he also wrote, winning the 1991 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.

    Among their many London stage credits Graves and Kurup have both played the role of Velma in Chicago in the West End. Mulholland is also a Chicago veteran, having played Roxie in December 2006. The actress first became known for taking part in the reality television programme How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? and is currently playing Maria in The Sound Of Music for two performances a week. Benn Harris is the current Christine in The Phantom Of The Opera and has previous London stage credits including Fame and Evita.

    _____________________________________

    *

    Posted in Aoife Mulholland Chess Royal Albert Hall May 2008 Videos Photos Josh Groben Idina Menzel Kerry Ellis »

  11. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.musicomh.com/theatre/rec_chess_0609.htm

    Chess – Live from the Royal Albert Hall
    Label: Reprise Records | US release date: 16 June 2009

    The musical Chess, with music by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and lyrics by Tim Rice, is perhaps best known for the tumultuous twists and turns it has taken over the past twenty-five years.

    Centered around a Cold War-era love triangle headed off by two chess players, one Russian and one American, and the elusive woman that comes between them, the show has had its share of successes and failures.

    Beginning its life as a concept album in 1984, replete with synth-filled pop orchestrations and featuring Elaine Paige in the role of Florence, Chess was an instant sensation, particularly in the U.K., where the original 1986 London production, directed by Trevor Nunn and starring several of the album’s original stars, ran for nearly three years and was followed by a successful tour.

    Songs like One Night In Bangkok and I Know Him So Well placed high in the pop charts as well, paving the way for popular success. In the U.S., however, Chess has had more of a cult following. The 1988 Broadway production, featuring a revised storyline helmed by book writer Richard Nelson, closed after three months due to tepid reviews and heavy discounting.

    Subsequent productions have tried to improve upon the musical’s story, tweaking the order of songs and details of particular plot points, so this new concert presentation represents a welcome addition to Chess fans’ collections because of the proclamation of its lyricist Tim Rice that this is hitherto the most definitive version of the show’s score.

    Retaining international singing star Josh Groban as Anatoly (the Russian) and Broadway actor Adam Pascal as Freddie (the American), both of whom performed in a New York Actor’s Fund benefit performance of the musical that took place in 2003, an impressive cast of singers was assembled at the Royal Albert Hall in London (which has always been more kind to the show than New York), including Tony-winner Idina Menzel (Wicked, Rent) as Florence, American actor Clarke Peters as Walter, British singer Marti Pellow as the Arbiter, Kerry Ellis (Wicked) as Svetlana, and David Bedella (Jerry Springer the Opera) as Molokov.
    The concert, which took place on 12 and 13 May 2008, was recorded over the course of its two nights of performances, to be aired on national TV in Britain and the U.S. as well as for CD release. Deluxe editions featuring karaoke tracks and sheet music for several of the show’s songs are also available from the official websites of Josh Groban and Idina Menzel.

    Joined by the 50-piece City of London Philharmonic and 100-voice West End Chorus, the recording as a whole is lushly produced and aurally satisfying. Including all of the show’s incidental music and recitative, this Chess certainly represents a sweeping and rather impressive presentation of the show, exactly the sort of redemptive stroke the show’s creative team must have been hoping for in assembling a top-notch cast for such a high-profile revisiting of their brainchild.

    Josh Groban as Anatoly acquits himself particularly well. His classical-pop records have sold millions of copies around the world, so it’s clear that there’s an audience for his brand of vocal styling. But who knew this sometimes tepid-seeming crooner had some acting chops as well. In the connective dialogue portions of the recording, Groban succeeds in painting Russian chess player Anatoly with fuller brushstrokes than some of his cast mates, and his vocals in songs like Where I Want To Be and Anthem are impressive, full of bravura and lacking the histrionics of some of Groban’s previous recording efforts.

    If Adam Pascal doesn’t quite erase memories of Murray Head’s rendering of the character on the original concept recording, his portrayal of American chess player Freddie is also fine. His rendering of One Night In Bangkok is somewhat less polished than Head’s, perhaps due to the fact that it’s a live performance, but Pascal has an edgy rock voice that suits his character’s rangy vocal passages and somewhat irritable character traits.

    Completing the love triangle as Florence is Idina Menzel, a Tony-winner for her performance in Wicked, whose presence here is fine but occasionally less than impressive. She belts songs like Nobody’s Side and Heaven Help My Heart out of the park, but her rather juvenile delivery and less-than-impressive line readings tend to grate upon repeated listens. Still, she hardly distracts from the fine quality of the CD as a whole.

    Rounding out the cast are Kerry Ellis’s superb Svetlana, whose Someone Else’s Story is a highlight, a somewhat underpowered Marti Pellow as the Arbiter, sinister David Bedella’s over-the-top take on Molokov, and deep-voiced Clarke Peters, who does a fine job in the minor role of Walter.

    The storyline of the musical is mostly incomprehensible from merely listening to the show on disc. Perhaps its somewhat convoluted plot line accounts, to a certain extent, for its limited success on stage. It’s recommended that casual listeners sit down and flip through the basic outline of the show’s synopsis before attempting to fully appreciate the score.

    Still, as an anthemic pop opera, Chess comes across well on this new, supposedly definitive recording. If the cast occasionally lacks the power of its concept cast equivalents, the lush orchestra and chorus alone – and the chance to hear the score in its absolute entirety – more than make up for any deficits, making this recording at the very least a welcome recording to Chess fans, as well as to those interested in hearing Josh Groban’s rather impressive take on a high-powered, energetic score.

    – Richard Patterson

    track listing
    1. Prologue
    2. The Story Of Chess
    3. Merano/What A Scene! What A Joy!
    4. Commie Newspapers
    5. Press Conference
    6. Molokov And Anatoly
    7. Where I Want To Be
    8. Difficult And Dangerous Times
    9. The Arbiter
    10. Hymn To Chess
    11. The Merchandisers
    12. Global TV Fanfare
    13. Chess Game #1
    14. The Arbiter (Reprise)
    15. Quartet (A Model Of Decorum And Tranquility)
    16. Florence And Molokov
    17. 1956 – Budapest Is Rising
    18. Nobody’s Side
    19. Mountain Duet
    20. Chess Game #2
    21. Florence Quits
    22. Pity The Child #1
    23. Embassy Lament
    24. Heaven Help My Heart
    25. Anatoly And The Press
    26. Anthem
    27. Golden Bangkok
    28. One Night In Bangkok
    29. One More Opponent
    30. You And I
    31. The Soviet Machine
    32. The Interview
    33. Someone Else’s Story
    34. The Deal (No Deal)
    35. Pity The Child #2
    36. I Know Him So Well
    37. Talking Chess
    38. Endgame #1
    39. Endgame #2
    40. Endgame #3/Chess Game #3
    41. You And I (Reprise)
    42. Walter And Florence
    43. Anthem (Reprise)

  12. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturereviews/3670962/Tim-Rice-I-thought-wed-be-together-for-life.html

    Tim Rice: ‘I thought we’d be together for life’

    Jasper Rees
    Published: 12:01AM GMT 04 Feb 2008

    Tim Rice: ‘We?re going to be friends until one of us kicks the bucket?
    Lyricist Tim Rice talks to Jasper Rees about his ‘divorce’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber – and the revival of his musical Chess

    Watch Elaine Paige and the original cast perform songs from Chess
    In the 1970s Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber redefined musical theatre. With Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, they appeared to be on the path to a lifetime’s collaboration.

    And then the composing half of the partnership began work on Cats, for which TS Eliot had already supplied lyrics. They’ve not worked together on a musical since. Does his lyricist ever feel a pang of remorse that he has refused all subsequent offers, of which there have been many, to get back into bed together?

    “When Phantom was at its peak,” says Rice, “and Chess was having problems, I thought probably it was a big mistake from my point of view. And people quite understandably were going to think our success is all down to Andrew.

    I suppose being vain and human I got a bit p***ed off at that point. Not with Andrew particularly but with myself, that I should have stuck with him.

    “Phantom is a brilliant show, but it didn’t really interest me desperately. And the ideas Andrew has worked on since Phantom haven’t appealed to me particularly.”

    Instead Rice wrote the book and lyrics to Blondel, a medieval caper in the joshing vein of Joseph which failed to ignite audience-fever. Then he turned his attention to an epic about the Cold War, focusing on the titanic battle between two chess grandmasters and their romantic entanglements.

    He in turn invited his old collaborator aboard, but when Lloyd Webber declined, Rice turned instead to Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, who had only recently brought down the curtain on Abba.

    More than two decades later, Rice is still trying to get Chess right. The latest concert version, starring Josh Groban and Wicked’s Idina Menzel, is to be performed over two nights in May at the Albert Hall.

    It began life, like Jesus Christ Superstar, as an album which yielded the hit songs I Know Him So Well and One Night in Bangkok. Its initial advance towards the stage was impeded by the withdrawal of Chorus Line director Michael Bennett, who had contracted Aids.

    Trevor Nunn stepped in with six weeks to opening night and the show, expanded from the album, ran for three years in London. Then it went to New York.

    “Broadway,” Rice freely admits, “was a disaster. The basic problem was we hadn’t stuck closely enough to the original record. We didn’t quite know what Michael Bennett was going to do, and then Trevor put in his own things and we ended up with a bit of a hybrid in London.

    On Broadway the decision was taken to completely start from scratch. I suppose it might have worked, but it didn’t. The changes got out of control and it got worse and worse.

    “But because the score is so strong, everybody wants to do it. It’s been a free-for-all with every director who’s done it all over the world. I’ve seen some versions where I haven’t a clue what’s going on. The good thing is that every five minutes a cracking song comes up.”

    Rice’s contention is that there’s nothing much wrong with most of the show. If there’s one song he could have on his tombstone, it would be Pity the Child rather than Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.

    Chess came seventh in a Radio 2 poll of the nation’s favourite musicals, and is always being performed. Last month he saw a version in the opera house in Tallinn. Between now and the Albert Hall, there will be new productions in South Africa, Australia and Los Angeles.

    “It’s always frustrated me because I genuinely get an awful lot of people saying to me, ‘Chess is my favourite piece of yours.’ Andrew and people like that say, ‘We’re fed up with songs from Chess, because that’s what people do in auditions.’

    “What I wanted to do before I snuff it is to say, ‘Right, I’ve shown that the piece can work and this is the version that I approve of.’ Maybe the show is doomed never to be as big as Phantom or Evita. But I know it’s as good as those.”

    It helps that the political upheaval it portrays, like the events in Evita when it was premièred, are now 30 years old and set in stone. The Broadway production was perilously relocated to 1988. “We’d wake up in the morning and go, ‘Oh no! The Berlin wall has come down. This is terrible news!’ – because it completely changed the fifth scene.”

    Post-divorce, Rice did not want for collaborators. Apart from his collaboration with Ulvaeus and Andersson, his work for Disney with Elton John on The Lion King and Aida, and with Alan Mencken on Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, each yielded a hit.

    “These are great guys,” he says. “They’re all up there with Andrew. We’re not talking desperation.”

    But since Chess he has not been involved in the creation of an entirely new stage musical, unless you count Cliff Richard’s Heathcliff or the reportedly cumbersome King David on Broadway.

    As Joseph approaches its 40th birthday, he’s thinking of working up a stronger book for Blondel, he has ambitions to produce a complete book of his lyrics (“but not just the good ones”) and he has recently completed the first draft of a play about Machiavelli (“It would probably be hopeless, but if I got hit by a bus this afternoon, you could put it on”). He intends to add songs as and when a composer has been found.

    What about his old mucker? They still produce the odd song, most recently for Connie Fisher’s album in 2006, but does Rice ever think about rekindling the old partnership in the theatre? He certainly confesses to a great nostalgia for the years of their successes.

    “We were young, successful, travelling the world – I mean, what was not to love? I knew at the time it would not get better than this in career terms.

    “And it didn’t. It’s quite difficult to come back to a partnership. It’s like trying to get married again. I probably thought when we were writing, ‘We’re going to be Gilbert and Sullivan, we’ll do 10 shows together.’

    And then I probably thought, it’s a pity that we haven’t. Now I think maybe it’s best for both of us and we’re obviously going to be friends until one of us kicks the bucket.

    “I’m not sure we could have kept it up. The problem is if we did something that wasn’t as good, and it almost certainly wouldn’t be, people would say, ‘Ah well, we always knew they were never any good.'”

    Chess will be performed at the Albert Hall (020 7589 8212), London SW7, on May 12 and 13.

  13. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://remote.lohudblogs.com/2009/06/17/checkmate/

    Checkmate
    June 17 , 2009

    To the fan who recently wrote me inquiring if Josh Groban was coming to PBS soon, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” He stars with Idina Menzel and Adam Pascal in ”’Chess’ in Concert” on PBS’ “Great Performances” tonight (9 p.m., THIRTEEN locally). And — Josh Groban groupies, please take note — he’s by far the best thing in this mediocrity.For those who don’t remember the ‘80s – or have conveniently forgotten them (understood) — “Chess” was the 1986 musical by Tim Rice and the ABBA guys (Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus) set against the political and romantic intrigue of the Cold War era. Groban sings Anatoly, a Russian chess player who’s sort of like grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi with a little Boris Spassky thrown in. Pascal sings Freddie, an American chess player who’s sort of like Bobby Fischer, with a dash of John McEnroe for good measure.

    Amid the infectious, ABBA-style melodies and biting Rician lyrics there’s an intriguing subtext of Ugly Americanism. The American player is an obnoxious figure indeed — controlled, of course, by the all-powerful, money-grubbing American media — while the Russian is the soulful, self-sacrificing hero of the tale. (In truth, Fischer was an extremely demanding, neurotic individual who ended his days an embittered exile spewing anti-Semitic, anti-American rant.)

    Though no Kenneth Branagh in the theatrical department, Grobin manages to convey the existential turmoil of a man who understands that he is a mere pawn in a bigger game. And his voice has a certain power and beauty of tone, never more so than in the Act 1-ending “The Anthem,” which brings down the house in London’s Royal Albert Hall.

    It’s more than can be said for Menzel and Pascal, who co-starred in the overrated “Rent.” Her thin, angular voice and looks are suited to the Hungarian business manager who has had a hard childhood behind the Iron Curtain and finds life no easier now that she must choose between her love for one man and her loyalty to the other. Ultimately, however, the harshness of Menzel’s voice and appearance (encased in a lumpy black-and-white gown) defeats the performance.

    As for Pascal, beefier than in his “Rent” days, he’s appropriately petulant. But his voice becomes strained whenever he reaches for a high note, which is often.

    What’s really surprising is just how dry even the choral singing is. Apart from Groban, there’s just no lushness here.

    ”’Chess’ in Concert” isn’t as bad as the recent, disastrous concert “Camelot,” with Gabriel Byrne woefully miscast as Arthur. But it in no way approaches the transcendence of the concert “South Pacific,” with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Reba McEntire heading a sublime cast.

    Consider it checkmated.

  14. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/News/Rock+musical+Chess+nostalgic+treat/1703510/story.html

    Rock musical Chess a nostalgic treat

    By Alex Strachan, Canwest News ServiceJune 17, 2009

    In the mood for nostalgia? AC/DC’s Black Ice Tribute didn’t quite do it for you?

    Take a walk down ABBA road instead with tonight’s Chess in Concert, featuring Josh Groban in an eye-filling London concert revival of Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson’s ’80s concept album and subsequent stage show.

    Chess may have flopped on Broadway but it was the cat’s meow in Europe, where chess is — or was — a contact sport and the Cold War was a real and ever-present danger.

    Time magazine proclaimed Chess “one of the best rock scores ever produced” at the time, and last year’s revival concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall didn’t exactly fall on deaf ears, either. The Stage, Britain’s newspaper for the performing arts, raved of ABBA’s revival, “Is there an original pop musical stuffed with better melodies?” and PBS’s Great Performances filmed the event for a later date.

    That date is upon us. Chess in Concert makes its North American debut tonight, with Groban in the role of the Russian chess master Anatoly; Rent’s Adam Pascal in the role of the American challenger and resident hot-head Freddie; and Tony-winner Idina Menzel as Florence, the siren talent manager torn between East and West.

    ABBA provides the music and Groban, Pascal and Menzel do the singing, but the real star of the show just might be Sir Tim Rice’s lyrics.

    Don’t expect a sequel, though. With Russian chess legend Garry Kasparov famously feuding with Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin over the future of the new Russia, I asked Sir Tim earlier this year if there was any chance he would revisit the world of Chess, now that ABBA is going through a cult revival.

    “No,” was Sir Tim’s answer. “I had enough hassle writing this one.”

    Thankfully, watching Chess is no hassle.

    If you have ABBA on your mind, if you enjoy chess, if you’re pining for the good old days of the Cold War, or if you just want to see a good stage performance, well performed, catch Chess in Concert. (8 p.m., WPBS)

    – – –

    Or you can stay with the tired-and-true. In tonight’s Wipeout, the remaining contestants in the world’s longest obstacle course face such hurdles as Aqua Launch, Crazy Sweeper and Waterfall Turntables. All that and Talk Soup’s John Henson, too. Hoopla! (8 p.m., ABC, Global)

    – – –

    I Survived a Japanese Game Show returns for a sophomore season earlier than expected. In this one, 12 contestants are whisked away from their comfy North American existence to Japan, where they compete in games like Big Foot Bang Bang, Alien Take My Teddy Bear and Gopher Make You Crazy. The winner stands to gain US $250,000. And no, we’re not making any of this up. (9 p.m., ABC, Citytv)

    William Shatner alert! The Shat is Conan O’Brien’s very special guest on The Tonight Show, along with Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse and musical guest Incubus. (11:35 p.m., NBC, A)

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/06/josh-groban-and-kiri-te-kanawa-at-hollywood-bowl-opening-night.html

    Review: Josh Groban, Kiri Te Kanawa at Hollywood Bowl opening night
    2:34 PM, June 20, 2009

    It was a chocolate and champagne sort of night at the Hollywood Bowl.

    The festive mood at Friday’s season-opening concert proved extra-conducive for enjoying those consumables from one’s picnic basket, while, in a more fanciful sense, those flavors wafted on the air as cocoa-voiced Josh Groban and effervescent soprano Kiri Te Kanawa performed separate sets as new inductees into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.

    As a double bill, these talents might have seemed an odd combination — the 28-year-old boy-man who sends his female fan base swooning with a repertoire that is a bit pop, a bit classical and a bit world music, yet not really any of them, and the celebrated, ever-radiant 65-year-old opera star who’s gone largely missing for more than a decade now.

    Yet diversity is one of the qualities embraced by the Hall of Fame, which showcases performers who “embody the spirit of the Bowl,” as Thomas Wilkins, the evening’s conductor and genial emcee, explained.

    Proof of that precept promptly materialized as the hall’s first inductees, country singer Garth Brooks and composer-conductor John Williams manned a stage-side lectern to introduce this 10th anniversary Hall of Fame concert.

    When, more than two hours later, Groban and Te Kanawa twined voices for a surprise duet on Cole Porter’s “True Love,” they proved remarkably complementary, with Te Kanawa skimming like a bird just above Groban’s deep waters.

    Their fans, on the other hand, were grin-inducingly eclectic. Pre-performance, one Grobanite was the talk of adjoining boxes of concert-goers after she walked by proudly baring the singer’s portrait, tattooed on her upper arm. Later, when Te Kanawa arrived on stage, a shout of “Aotearoa” – the Maori phrase that characterizes her New Zealand homeland as the land of the “long white cloud” – rang out in greeting from one exuberant spectator.

    During his five-song, post-intermission performance, hometown boy Groban faced a hillside rainbow of glow sticks and was bathed in a continuous strobe effect from camera flashes. He moved athletically from keyboard to drum kit before planting himself at a standing mike, backed, as Te Kanawa earlier had been, by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

    The capacity audience of nearly 18,000 whooped for the Groban staple “February Song,” a bittersweet ballad about a young man in search of himself, and “Pearls,” a mournful-resilient tribute to the people of Somalia, performed with Angelique Kidjo, the Beninese singer who’s been his tour mate. A still louder response greeted Groban’s set-capping performance of “Anthem,” from the rock musical “Chess.” He headlined a concert version of the show last year in London; Friday, he was backed by young singers from his alma mater, the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

    In the first half, Te Kanawa elicited anticipatory applause as, in the middle of her five-song set, she sent aloft the first phrase of “O mio babbino caro,” the Puccini aria for which the world has recognized her ever since her rendition of it was used in the 1985 film “A Room With a View.” Through the rest of the song, the purity and languor in her voice seemed to float gently down upon the audience like feathers released from some heavenly pillow-cloud. That downy quality also was evident in a graceful pairing with pal and fellow star Frederica von Stade in the fond, playful “Ah guarda, sorella” duet from Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte.”

    Prior Hall of Fame inductees Trisha Yearwood and Roger Daltrey made brief, 10th anniversary appearances. The country singer struggled to fit her voice to a cross-genre song choice, the standard “I’ll Be Seeing You”; Daltrey half-roared, half-spoke a pair of songs that he once delivered so smoothly in the Who’s “Tommy.”

    Te Kanawa and Groban, conversely, made singing seem effortless – though, as any singer knows, that is absolutely not the case. Proper technique requires physical stamina and years of training. Both Te Kanawa and Groban are enthusiastic supporters of music outreach and training, another reason for their presence at this fundraising concert for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s educational Music Matters program. The evening raised nearly $1 million, according to a post-performance news release.

    — Daryl H. Miller

    Photos, from top: Josh Groban and Kiri Te Kanawa, Groban with Thomas Wilkins, Te Kanawa. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

  15. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.independent.ie/incoming/why-im-still-trying-to-get-the-chess-moves-right-20-years-on-1286003.html

    Why I’m still trying to get the Chess moves right 20 years on
    Tim Rice talks to Jasper Rees about his ‘divorce’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber — and the revival of the musical he wrote with the Abba boys

    By Jasper Rees

    Saturday February 09 2008

    In the 1970s, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber redefined musical theatre. With Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, they appeared to be on the path to a lifetime’s collaboration.

    And then the composing half of the partnership began work on Cats, for which TS Eliot had already supplied lyrics. They’ve not worked together on a musical since. Does his lyricist ever feel a pang of remorse that he has refused all subsequent offers, of which there have been many, to get back into bed together?

    “When Phantom was at its peak,” says Rice, “and Chess was having problems, I thought probably it was a big mistake from my point of view. And people quite understandably were going to think our success is all down to Andrew. I suppose being vain and human I got a bit pissed off at that point. Not with Andrew particularly but with myself, that I should have stuck with him.

    “Phantom is a brilliant show, but it didn’t really interest me desperately. And the ideas Andrew has worked on since Phantom haven’t appealed to me particularly.”

    Instead, Rice wrote the book and lyrics to Blondel, a medieval caper in the joshing vein of Joseph which failed to ignite audience-fever. Then he turned his attention to an epic about the Cold War, focusing on the titanic battle between two chess grandmasters and their romantic entanglements.

    He in turn invited his old collaborator aboard, but when Lloyd Webber declined, Rice turned instead to Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, who had only recently brought down the curtain on ABBA.

    More than two decades later, Rice is still trying to get Chess right. The latest concert version, starring Josh Groban and Wicked’s Idina Menzel, is to be performed over two nights in May at the Albert Hall in London.

    It began life, like Jesus Christ Superstar, as an album which yielded the hit songs I Know Him So Well and One Night in Bangkok. Its initial advance towards the stage was impeded by the withdrawal of Chorus Line director Michael Bennett, who had contracted Aids.

    Trevor Nunn stepped in with six weeks to opening night and the show, expanded from the album, ran for three years in London. Then it went to New York.

    “Broadway,” Rice freely admits, “was a disaster. The basic problem was we hadn’t stuck closely enough to the original record. We didn’t quite know what Michael Bennett was going to do, and then Trevor put in his own things and we ended up with a bit of a hybrid in London.

    “On Broadway the decision was taken to completely start from scratch. I suppose it might have worked, but it didn’t. The changes got out of control and it got worse and worse.

    “But because the score is so strong, everybody wants to do it. It’s been a free-for-all with every director who’s done it all over the world. I’ve seen some versions where I haven’t a clue what’s going on. The good thing is that every five minutes a cracking song comes up.”

    Rice’s contention is that there’s nothing much wrong with most of the show. If there’s one song he could have on his tombstone, it would be Pity the Child rather than Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.

    Chess came seventh in a radio poll of the UK’s favourite musicals, and is always being performed. Last month he saw a version in the opera house in Tallinn. Between now and the Albert Hall, there will be new productions in South Africa, Australia and LA.

    “It’s always frustrated me because I genuinely get an awful lot of people saying to me, ‘Chess is my favourite piece of yours’. Andrew and people like that say, ‘We’re fed up with songs from Chess, because that’s what people do in auditions.’

    “What I wanted to do before I snuff it is to say, ‘Right, I’ve shown that the piece can work and this is the version that I approve of’. Maybe the show is doomed never to be as big as Phantom or Evita. But I know it’s as good as those.”

    2008, Irish Independent

    – Jasper Rees

  16. Ian Cole Says:

    CHESS IN CONCERT reviewed. http://www.abba-world.net/ > Muse > Reviews

  17. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    Elaine paige is touring. Here are the details:

    http://www.liveguide.com.au/Tours/638964/Elaine_Paige/Elaine_Paige_Live_Celebrating_A_Life_On_Stage

    Elaine Paige Live – Celebrating A Life On Stage
    Elaine Paige
    24 Oct Hamer Hall – The Arts Centre VIC 27 Oct Brisbane Convention Centre QLD 30 Oct Royal Theatre ACT 31 Oct State Theatre NSW 2 Nov Burswood Theatre WA
    Elaine Paige Live – Celebrating A Life On Stage
    Elaine Paige @ Hamer Hall – The Arts Centre
    24 Oct 2009

    Tour Name:Elaine Paige Live – Celebrating A Life On StageArtist(s):Elaine PaigeSupporting Artist(s):N/ADate:Sat, 24 Oct 2009Venue:Hamer Hall – The Arts Centre
    100 St Kilda Rd
    VIC 3000

    Send a Ticket Enquiry

    Find more events in Melbourne Price:$79 – $129Tickets:http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/
    Ticketmaster
    136100 (option 8)

    Description:”The First Lady of British Musical Theatre”

    The legendary star of the West End and Broadway, Elaine Paige is an actress, recording artist and producer, who has made a major contribution to the modern musical which ensures her own chapter in the entertainment world and justifies the title ‘The First Lady of British Musical Theatre’. She will be recreating many of her starring roles in the biggest musicals of the modern era in a celebration of a life on Stage. She has starred in numerous West End productions and on Broadway, sweeping to fame when she created Eva Peron in Evita, and Grizabella in the original production of Cats and the classic song Memory became one of Elaine’s many hit records.

    Further theatre productions: Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Billy, Chess, Anything Goes, Piaf, Sunset Boulevard in London and Broadway, The King and I, Sweeney Todd (New York City Opera). She has performed in concerts worldwide from The White House to The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, from the Bolshoi to Sydney Opera House. She has recorded 20 solo albums (4 multi Platinum and 8 consecutive Gold) and 6 cast albums and has been honoured with a number of awards: Order of the British Empire for services to Musical Theatre (1995), and many other accolades.

    September 2008 marked the 40th Anniversary of Elaine Paige’s West End debut. This was celebrated with a sell-out tour of the UK, a new book ‘Elaine Paige – Memories’ and a CD entitled ‘Elaine Paige Live – Celebrating A Life On Stage’. This international celebration will bring Elaine Paige to Australia in Concert in October 2009.

    Styles:MusicalsWeb Address:N/A

  18. Samuel N. Inglles Says:

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/arts/the-next-stage-for-paige/2009/10/19/1255891773273.html

    The next stage for Paige

    Bryce Hallett
    October 20, 2009

    Elaine Paige’s one-woman show offers a crowd of strong characters she’s played on stage, from Eva Peron to Norma Desmond.

    WHEN one of the theatre’s most accomplished leading ladies, Elaine Paige, steps on stage this month she will attempt the equivalent of running a musical marathon.

    ”The concert is a celebration of my 40 years in show business beginning with Hair,” says Paige, who was at the forefront of the late ’70s and ’80s resurgence of the British musical. ”I tell stories and anecdotes, belt out lots of numbers and use props and wigs; it’s quite exhausting doing it on my own. It’s a big sing.”

    An institution on London’s West End, Paige worked with the director Joan Littlewood’s pioneering Theatre Workshop before making her name in roles originated for her by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The role call includes Eva Peron in Evita, Grizabella in Cats, and Florence in Chess, in addition to parts that she made her own: Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Edith Piaf in Pam Gems’ biographical play and Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd.

    Paige says that Cole Porter’s Anything Goes gave her a chance to sing unforgettable tunes while dancing up a storm, whereas Piaf, whom Jean Cocteau christened ”the poet of the streets”, left her reeling. ”It’s a difficult and taxing role, a rich drama full of songs and charting her life from 15 to her death at 48. I did six performances a week for eight months. It nearly killed me.”

    Born Elaine Jill Bickerstaff in 1948, the performer describes each of the characters she has inhabited with affection. ”Eva Peron was a great, rare moment as was Edith Piaf and Norma Desmond. Playing feisty, independent women of their time has been a thread running through my career and the reason why the musicals live on.

    ”Although they are spirited and strong, I try to find a humbler element to these people. Clearly they were vulnerable. Some people see me as difficult and bossy so I can identify with that … They [the characters] can’t just be opinionated, otherwise why would an audience care, and that’s how I am.”

    In 1996, Paige finally got to make her Broadway debut. It was more a matter of chance than planning. The role was the desperate silent screen goddess Norma Desmond, for which Paige had won acclaim in London.

    ”When I left Sunset [Boulevard] after it closed on Broadway, the loss of playing Norma Desmond had a huge impact on me. I fell into a sort of melancholy. The character was so strong and I felt the musical was saying something about my own life and that here I was back where I belonged. I loved playing it.”

    Whatever the emotional toll, Sunset reaffirmed Paige’s dedication to musicals.

    One of her most recent theatrical turns was in The Drowsy Chaperone, a musical comedy soon to be produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company, directed by Simon Phillips and starring Geoffrey Rush and Robyn Nevin. ”It was clever, funny and well-written, and an original look at musicals from a modern point of view,” Paige says. ”I played Beatrice Stockwell, an elegant actress with many past triumphs … The audiences loved the show but it closed after two months.”

    The singer remains mystified about its premature demise, especially at a time when book musicals are few and far between.

    ”Where are the new writers and where are the ideas coming from? Spring Awakening is a new, original work, and deserved a good run but the public keeps wanting revivals or those jukebox things … It would be good to find a way to encourage the development of rich and meaningful musicals. West Side Story propelled me into my career and inspired me to sing, act and dance, and the best works bring all these elements into play; it’s the reason why My Fair Lady and Carousel live on.”

    But back to the beginning – more precisely to the dawning of the protest musical Hair. Written by out-of-work actors Gerome Ragni and James Rado, with music by Galt MacDermot, the show opened to mixed reviews in 1968, yet its rebellious, liberating tone intoxicated audiences.

    ”When I think back on those times I think of being young and free, and having no responsibilities,” Paige says.

    ”We were passionate and we held up the ideal of peace and ridding the world of war. My father always said that peace would never happen no matter how much you want it. Sadly, he was right … Being a teenager in the ’60s was a great time for music, fashion and art. Everything was flying at that time. There was a freedom to make discoveries, sexually for women in particular, and not the terrorism we have now. But no matter how dark and despairing things get, you don’t lose sight of your ideals, you hang on to them.”

    When Elaine met Susan
    IT STARTED as a fan’s tribute and then went viral: Susan Boyle sang I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables, she told the judges on Britain’s Got Talent, because she wanted to be like Elaine Page. A couple of weeks and several million YouTube hits later, Boyle’s idol posted a message on her website: ”It seems her performance has really captured the hearts of everyone who saw it, me included … it looks like I have competition! Perhaps we should record a duet?”

    These plans have fizzled – Paige will not appear on Boyle’s forthcoming album of musical numbers, Madonna tunes and Neil Diamond covers. But the two singers met a couple of weeks ago on the NBC Today show when both were guests. According to Paige’s website, the theatre legend shared tips about relaxing after a performance (hot milk or yoga, apparently), and how she chooses songs. (”Lyrics are very important”).

  19. Samuel N. Inglles Says:

    Go to this link to listen to Elaine Page interview:

    http://blogs.abc.net.au/canberra/2009/10/tuesday-drive-elaine-page.html?program=canberra_afternoons

    Tuesday Drive – Elaine Page
    10/20/2009
    She has starred in Chess, Cats and Evita to name a few.

    English performer Elaine Page is in Australia at the moment performing a show comprising many of her most popular songs.

    Louise spoke to her today about her career but began the interview by playing her version of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”

  20. Samuel Inglles Says:

    The Daily Telegraph (Saturday, 24-30 October 2009) Page 12

    Best Weekend

    Celebrating a life on stage. By Stephen Downie

    Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s probably not the image most people have of Elaine Paige, the woman regarded as the first lady of British musical theatre. But it was the 1960s, after all, and Paige was part of the revolution.

    “I think we were pushing boundaries,” she recalls. “I remember at the time you felt like you belonged to a worldwide family.

    “The youth was against the Vietnam War and there was a really wonderful boom in music with the Beach Boys and West Coast music in the States, and The Beatles and The Stones in London.

    “And there was a sexual revolution. There was lots of sex, because the invention of the pill had come along, so that freed women up from the fear of pregnancy and the girls became as bad as the boys in having as much sex as they wanted. It was a very exciting time, and there were drugs.”

    So Paige experimented.

    “I wouldn’t say I got involved in drug taking heavily, but I did try things out, absolutely.”

    Paige is celebrating 40 years in musical theatre and touring Australia.

    Her show, which is a largely autobiographical, ties into a book, ‘Memories’, about her life.

    At just 20, Paige made her West End debut in the rock musical that celebrated 1960s counter-culture, ‘Hair’, in 1968.

    Although an understudy, her role did call for Paige to be nude in one scene. Ten years later, she was cast in an appearance that changed her life and made her a star overnight, that of Eva Peron in the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ‘Evita’.

    It gave Paige her first Laurence Oliver Award. Some time after, the musical was turned into a movie, starring Madonna in the lead role. Curiously, Paige was once asked in an interview who would play her in the movie of her life, to which she replied, Madonna. Why?

    “I was being facetious, because she stole my role,” Paige says with a chuckle. “It was a little joke.”

    Paige’s status as the queen of the stage was confirmed when she took the role of Grizabella, in ‘Cats’, in 1981. The role was to go to Judi Dench but, following an injury that forced her to withdraw, the door was open for Paige. It allowed Paige to sing what has become her signature tune, ‘Memory’

    “I do feel possessive of that song,” she says.

    Paige recalls that even when the show opened in 1981, audiences were divided about ‘Cats’.

    “You either loved it or you hated it; there was no middle ground,” she says.

    “But the show was Disney-esque. It was like live Disney.”

    Then in 1985, Paige achieved pop stardom, when the song ‘I Know Him So Well’, a duet she sang with Barbara Dickson from the musical ‘Chess’ was an international No.1 hit. It remains the biggest-selling record by a female duo, according to Guinness World Records. And yet Paige remains a very shy person off stage.

    “The idea of suddenly being famous was just awful,” she says.

    “But no one will believe that.”

    * State Theatre, 46 Market St, City; October 31, 2009, 8pm, $79.90-$129.90, 136 100, ticketmaster.com.au

    * Memories of a first lady: Elaine Paige celebrates 40 years in showbusiness as a singer and actress, including in ‘The King And I’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: