THIS IS THE NEWS PAGE AS IT EXISTED IN 2001
PURPOSE OF THIS SITE
This site was always intended as a reference site, a chronicle of the major productions of Chess.
There have been no major "class A" (in Actors Equity's terms) productions of the show since this site was launched. With the impending major revival, productions are on the wane, but check Chess: The Musical for the latest on upcoming productions. When the anticipated Broadway revival is a reality, when new CDs come out and when new concert versions are staged, this website will cover them.
WHAT'S NEW ON THE WEBSITE
16 February 2001
A new version of the original London production of Chess is currently in early pre-production to premiere in Stockholm in 2002. Tentative opening date is 23 March.
Rumors are flying that the three leads will be played by Helen Sjöholm, Peter Jöback (stars of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus's Kristina) and Tommy Körberg. The director working with the creators of Chess is also a Kristina veteran, Lars Rudolfsson, who is also working on the translation with Bjorn. Projected budget is £2 million. The book of the show is currently undergoing major revisions, 1-3 new songs are possible, and the show will be performed for the first time in Swedish.
In additional news, there is a slight possibility of a one-off Chess concert at Albert Hall sometime this year. One can only hope for a reunion of the original actors who created the roles 15 years ago.
Chess opens tonight at the Diamond Head Theatre in Honolulu, Hawaii. Andrew Sakaguchi is directing and it stars Jade Stice as Florence and Matthew Pedersen as Freddie. This theatre has done most of the Tim Rice shows and is a very professional venue. Report will follow.
28 October 2000
Sorry for all the downtime on this site. My web host was sold to Yahoo, who decided to charge me more than 1000% more for the space than simplenet. The transition to my new web host has been difficult and took much longer than anticipated. As I am in the process of uploading every single one of thousands of files, please be patient. The site will be back as soon as possible. I am also in the middle of moving, which makes all this even more difficult.
18 June 2000
The big news is there is a production of Chess coming to the Diamond Head Theatre in Honolulu next February! Amazing that Waikiki--2400 miles from anywhere-- would be the site of one of the last licensed productions before the revised London version takes over. Well, we get everything late here!
The official ABBA page has announced the tentative schedule for the tour of Mamma Mia! after it leaves Toronto: 14 November 2000 at the Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco; late winter at the Shubert Theatre, Los Angeles; May 2001 at Chicago's Cadillac Theatre followed by Boston and New York (at the Winter Garden).
Tim Rice just finished a month emceeing a revue of his music in Australia, where his book has also just been released in paperback. No news on the Chess revival except that in a Toronto interview, Bjorn Ulvaeus said the tour would start in Los Angeles, then San Francisco, and noted that it was a relief to have it be a period piece now, about a time when Russians defected and the War was Cold.
The Links page has been updated with new sites, new looks and updated URLs.
23 February 2000
Tim Rice has authorized the publication of the following information about the major Chess revival. "A major new production of Chess is scheduled for late 2000/early 2001, with a lengthy US tour leading to Broadway. This production will be new to North American theatregoers, consisting of the hit London production's never-recorded complete score with minor modifications and a book revised from the same version. The show is currently being worked on by original creators Benny Andersson, Tim Rice and Björn Ulvaeus, who plan to delete "The Merchandiser's Song" and add a new first act song for Anatoly. The revised story will be set in 1984, and compared to the show seen at the Prince Edward Theatre from 1986-88, will now focus more intently on the Russian challenger, Anatoly Sergievsky. The character of his wife, Svetlana, will be expanded and she will sing the much-acclaimed song, "Someone Else's Story"--written for the character of Florence in the Broadway version.
American audiences will hear, for the first time, songs cut before Broadway, such as "Embassy Lament," "Merano," and "Soviet Machine." "Endgame" and "U.S. vs. U.S.S.R." will have their original lyrics restored. "The Arbiter's Song," cut shortly after the Broadway opening, will also be in the new production.
The first act will take place in Moscow and Merano, Italy, the second act in Bangkok. No cast or director has been chosen. The London set's massive "vidiwalls" and huge revolving and tilting chessboard stage are gone and this new production will be done on a simpler, more intimate scale, not unlike the current hit revival of "Chicago."
This US premiere of the West End show will mark the end of the multiple versions of Chess,
permanently retiring the dramatically different Richard Nelson and Richard Coe versions
which played on Broadway and the American Tour. Productions with bits from London,
Broadway, the American Tour, Sydney, Chicago and the British Tour have been playing in
the US since 1989. The aim of the new production is to create a "definitive" version
of the musical, which will then be the only version performed worldwide.
The show will have a 40-week tryout in 8 cities prior to Broadway."
On the website, I've been trying to fix some of the photos which refuse to appear, and some broken links. Please be patient. It's a big site and when you have photos of Anthem from 6 productions, titling files can get a little strange. Thanks to all who've notified me of broken links. I'm also trying to find reliable sources of the available Chess CDs and will post them next to the sections where they're highlighted (the Concept Album, Broadway and Variations sections).
11 January 2000
At last! Updates! A section on the souvenirs and promotions for the Broadway production
has been added as well as the lengthy Vanity Fair article about the rocky road to
the Broadway opening. Both can be accessed from the Broadway page. Additionally, a
song added for one preview performance and then cut ("East/West") is now included in its
proper place near the end of the second act. Many thanks to Tim Rice, who unearthed the
To anyone who has e-mailed me in the last 6 months and hasn't received an answer to a question or a comment, please re-send your e-mail. My computer has been down or inaccessible for a great deal of the time and aol has an irritating habit of dumping unread e-mails after two weeks.
22 November 1999
The move across 2400 miles of the Pacific is at last completed. The unpacking isn't.
So anyone awaiting tapes or the like, I still have to sort things out. The weather here
is gorgeous and I see a rainbow nearly every day. "Never waste a hot afternoon" is
The Original London Cast recording of Mamma Mia! is now available through amazon
uk's site (as well as others).
The following news item appeared recently on Playbill's online site and I can
confirm it is, indeed true. Rice has finished the outline, though he has not begun
work on the script. His focus has been to clarify relationships and motivations of
the characters. The article:
Chess to Make "Probable" Return to Broadway in 2000-01
by Christine Ehren
Fans of the cult musical Chess have reason to rejoice. Lyricist Tim Rice is working on bringing the rock opera back to Broadway for a "probable" fall-winter opening in the 2000-2001 season.
According to a production spokesperson at Rice's Heartaches company in London, Rice has completed some alterations on the piece with one of the composers, Björn Ulvaeus, and is in talks with the Shubert Organization to bring the musical back to New York. Should the Broadway production be a hit this second time around, Chess will also tour again following the New York opening.
After an original success in London, Chess, a Cold War story of love and betrayal set against a Russian versus American chess match, opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on April 28, 1988. It closed June 25 that same year after trouble between its director Trevor Nunn and lyricist Tim Rice (Aida, Evita) and critical pans. Subsequent revivals and concert versions have been done since, often changing the plotting, cutting parts off the book, rearranging and reassigning the songs. Since its first incarnation as a "concept album" in 1984, Chess has obtained cult status, rivaling perhaps only Carrie in obsessive fans.
Written by Rice and ABBA's songwriting team, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, Chess includes 'One Night in Bangkok,' 'Heaven Help My Heart,' 'I Know Him So Well,' 'Pity the Child' and 'Anthem.'
Chess would mark a second ABBA project planned for Broadway's 2000-2001 season. The musical Mamma Mia!, featuring some of the Swedish group's greatest hits, may also land on the Great White Way that season.
10 September 1999
Not new on the website, but new, period, the long-awaited Tim Rice autobiography was officially launched in London on 7 September, and you can buy it right now for shipping in 48 hours. It's a superb book, full of great information about Joseph, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita. No Chess just yet, though there are references to it, that's for volume 2. But it's a delighful insight into the man, his view of his profession, his life and the way he thinks.
Follow the Internet Bookshop/WH Smith link to purchase the book, which is (for now) only available in Europe. The hardback is £15.19, the eventual paperback will be £7.19 and the audiobook (not yet completed) will be £6.12. Oddly, though the book's title is "Oh, What a Circus," the Internet Bookshop has it listed as "To Put it Mildly," but it's the right book. This is the very best way to experience the charm, wide-ranging interests, wit and intelligence of the man who wrote Chess. If everyone buys it, the publishers will want to do the next volume which should have all the Chess stuff in it, which is what we all want, right?
Just back from London for the book launch, and AFTER you buy Tim's book, start saving your money, Mamma Mia! is a smash! For those who don't know, this is a new musical with a story created around the greatest hits of ABBA.
It stars the divine Siobhan McCarthy, who created the roles of both the Mistress in Evita and Svetlana in Chess as well as going on to play Florence in London.
The musical's story is about Donna Sheridan, who runs a taverna on a tiny Greek isle and whose daughter is about to marry. Contrary to Donna's wishes (Donna's a feminist and proud single mother), her daughter Sophia plans a "white" wedding). In for the nuptuals are Donna's two best friends and members of her 70s rock group, Donna and the Dynamos. The acting, book, singing, direction, staging and set are all excellent and the show is a smash hit in London, virtually sold out until January. Click on the program's cover for a link to the show's official site, which has great photos, reviews, bios, and ticket information.
18 August 1999
The long-elusive RCA promotional item, the Chess Memo Cube, makes its appearance on the Concept Album page, and follow the "Souvenirs" link on the London page to see many of the items once available at the Prince Edward Theatre.
16 July 1999
A brief lull (due to exhaustion!) in the disposing of decades of junk as well as packing and organizing has allowed me to do some housekeeping on the site. Some broken links have been fixed, others updated, and general clean-up of missing umlauts and typos has been done. I hope to shortly add souvenir pages to each production's section with photos and descriptions of most items sold or used as promotional material at the time. One day, probably after my move in October, real audio sound will be added, especially for songs or productions never recorded.
23 February 1999
Again, sorry for the absence. The author of this website will be relocating in the fall and has been out of town a good bit since the last update. The big news (from our point of view) this month is the receipt of a new CD from France (see Concept Album pages) which uses our opening page graphics as its cover. While flattering, we wish we'd been asked. The CD is NOT affiliated with this website and its author had nothing whatever to do with its release. Another CD has been released in Sweden, of the Concept Album concert there in 1984.
10 November 1998
Sorry for the absence--a computer crash and two trips out of state are responsible. Please note Jamie Rocco's Wichita production of our favorite show. Only a few more days. Get thee to the theatre!
24 September 1998
The new fully staged Wellington, New Zealand production is up and a smash hit. Read review and interviews with cast members from the link on the London page.
13 September 1998
NEW! We now have a mailing list and a message board! The links are on the opening page.
20 August 1998
The full cast has been added for the Toronto Chess in Concert on the Variation page.
Pages have been added for the Blank Theatre Co. (Los Angeles) and Rockville (Maryland) Music Theatre productions of Chess, with casts, production credits and photos.
14 August 1998
Chess: The Story of the Musical has moved! If you haven't bookmarked the new location, here it is again:
As reconstructing and uploading nearly a thousand files twice in one week was a mind-numbing task, there may be some glitches. If you spot a missing photo, a lyric in the wrong place, a dead link or a photo that looks like something from a funhouse mirror, I would greatly appreciate it if you would let me know. Thanks.
A Site Map has been added to aid in your negotiation of this ever-growing website. A message board will be coming soon.
5 August 1998
The New Zealand production (click on it at bottom of the main London page) has been expanded with more photos, cast bios and complete credits.
I am working on a site index page so you can click on any specific production without knowing which version's book it used. This should be up shortly and will be accessible from the main opening page.
31 July 1998
The Concept Album page has been completely re-done, with as complete information as possible for collectors about Chess recordings.
A lengthy interview given by Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus about their experiences writing and producing Chess has been reprinted from the British Tour programme and can be found by going to the bottom of the "London" page, clicking on "British Tour," then clicking on the link at the bottom of that page.
30 July 1998
The Auckland, New Zealand production has been moved from "Variations" to "London" as it was billed as a concert version but was a fully-acted production of the London book and song order. It had complete production numbers and, other than its single, abstract set, should be considered a full production. This is the version which was staged in February 1998 in Melbourne, starring Barbara Dickson.
The Broadway and Chicago scripts have been typed into the computer and anyone who would like them should contact this website's author.
26 July 1998
The often-mentioned New York Off-Broadway production by The Actor's Perspective has been added, along with Tim Rice's program note which is often mis-quoted. This production is perceived quite differently than what it was meant to be--a vastly scaled-down version of the London production, suitable for a company of just fourteen actors (find it at the bottom of the London main page).
The 1992 Canadian concert, Danish concert (Variations section) and the Irish premiere (London section) have also been added.
The Guestbook has grown and I thank all of you for your wonderful and inspiring comments and support.
2 July 1998
Though there is a certain fascination in reading the reviews of a flop (the Broadway production--see below), the literate London critics had many interesting things to say about the original production. All the London reviews have been added, including a fascinating story of life imitating art (check after the first London Times review) and Tim Rice's vindication regarding the plot of the show.
29 June 1998
The entire Broadway section has been cleaned up, missing lyrics and photos added and some minor revisions made.
In addition, reviews from all the major print and television critics have been added. Click on Reviews at the bottom of the Broadway page.
24 June 1998