Thoughts on Chess the Musical 2021

I’m quite familiar with Chess the musical. While I’m by no means an expert, I have watched it enough times that I feel like I have a good grasp of the characters and overall story. I should disclaim, I have only seen the recording of Chess in Concert, taped at the Royal Albert Hall in London in May 2008, starring Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal and Josh Groban.

Seeing one of your favourite musicals live is always tricky, because very rarely can live up to your high expectations. So overall, I’m in two minds about the 2021 production, currently playing at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne (until Saturday, April 24), before heading to Adelaide (May 27-29), Perth (June 3-5) and Brisbane (June 8-10). Ticket info is available here.

Continue reading

An Interview With CHESS director Ryan Fogwell and lead Tavis Cunningham

Tavis+Steph Chess hero mediumIt’s hard to describe Chess, the musical composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus from ABBA with lyrics by Tim Rice, with its intricate plot, complex characters and multitudinous themes of love, politics and war – one really has to see it to appreciate it. With such well known songs as Anthem and One Night in Bangkok, this production has won countless fans all over the world and its original London production, starring Elaine Page and Murray Head, ran for three years on the West End. I spoke with Director Ryan Fogwell and lead Tavis Cunningham, who plays Anatoly Sergievsky, about the new production coming to Manly, NSW for a limited run this May.

Let’s talk about Chess. For people who haven’t heard of nor seen the musical before – what is Chess about?

Tavis: It’s set in the middle of the Cold War in 1979-1980 – a bit more into the later of the Cold War I guess, – and it’s really about how people are controlled by their countries and the political machinations that are going on between members of the US and the Soviet Union. It’s all taking place during two chess tournaments – one in Italy and one in Thailand. It follows the Russian chess player [Anatoly] and one of the members of the American team [Florence] who they get together during the first chess match and then various complications happen.

Continue reading