Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice’s epic musical love story Chess returns to the West End for the first time in over 30 years, playing a star-studded strictly limited season at the London Coliseum.
The first West End production of the show in over thirty years will star the likes of Michael Ball, Alexandra Burke, Cedric Neal, Tim Howar and Cassidy Janson.
Chess, written in 1984 by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King, Evita), tells a story of love and political intrigue, set against the background of the Cold War in the late 1970s/early 1980s, in which superpowers attempt to manipulate an international chess championship for political ends.
Two of the world’s greatest chess masters, one American, one Russian, are in danger of becoming the pawns of their governments as their battle for the world title gets under way. Simultaneously their lives are thrown into further confusion by a Hungarian refugee, a remarkable woman who becomes the centre of their emotional triangle. This mirrors the heightened passions of the political struggles that threaten to destroy lives and loves.
Ball, who is one of Britain’s leading musical theatre stars, will play Russian grandmaster Anatoly, opposite singer Tim Howar as American grandmaster Frederick “Freddie” Trumper. X Factor winner Burke plays Svetlana, Anatoly’s estranged wife, while Janson, who starred in Beautiful: The Carole King musical, will play Florence, Freddie’s presumed lover. The Chess cast will also feature recent Motown The Musical star Cedric Neal as The Arbiter.
This will be the first West End revival of Chess since the original 1986 production, which starred Elaine Paige, Murray Head and Tommy Korberg. That production, which ran for three years at the Prince Edward Theatre, followed a highly successful recording featuring the same stars, and included the international hit singles I Know Him So Well and One Night In Bangkok. Other well-known songs from Chess’ score include Anthem, Someone Else’s Story, Heaven Help My Heart and Pity The Child.
This new West End production, featuring English National Opera’s award-winning Orchestra and Chorus, will be directed by Laurence Connor, whose recent credits include School of Rock and Miss Saigon on Broadway and in the West End, Les Misérables on Broadway, and the international Jesus Christ Superstar arena tour. This is the fourth production in collaboration with ENO by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade, following previous hits Sunset Boulevard, Carousel and Sweeney Todd.
The return of Chess’ sensational score to the London stage is an important and exciting musical theatre prospect.
Please note that, with great regret, Murray Head has left the cast due to personal reasons; Cedric Neal is replacing Murray in the production.
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