PURPOSE OF THIS SITE

This site is 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. However, the upcoming Swedish-language production in Stockholm will break the long hiatus. Productions continue worldwide, so check Chess: The Musical for the latest. If the long-promised Broadway revival ever happens, when new CDs come out and when new concert versions are staged, this website will cover them.


WHAT'S NEW ON THE WEBSITE

31 December 2001
Happy New Year! Three new CDs are available on the merchandise page, with three more coming soon.


7 October 2001
A production of Chess in Austria has an interesting website. It is scheduled for December 2001.


31 July 2001
Chess In Concert The Nyack Chess Concerts are nearly upon us. I urge you to go. The BC/EFA concerts with many of the same people were incredible and more exciting than you can imagine. Many London-only songs were included and literally brought down the house. Click for Tickets! Tim Rice was hoping to come, but snapped his achilles tendon playing cricket and is laid up for 8 weeks with his foot in plaster.


27 June 2001
There is now an official date for the Swedish-language version of Chess. It will open at Cirkus on 23 February 2002. The website is in Swedish of course, but it's not too hard to figure out.

Terrance Mann has been added to the cast of the Nyack August Chess concerts. He'll play Molokov.


04 June 2001
A minor redesign of the website is in progress. A Merchandise page has been added with all available Chess stuff and a lot of CDs for sale. The 2002 Swedish production has a page which will be filled in as information becomes available.


26 May 2001
The legendary BC/EFA Chess Concert will be recreated 10-12 August 2001 at the Helen Hayes Center for the Performing Arts in Westchester County, New York. Rob Evan, Brian d'Arcy James and Danny Zolli will be recreating their roles. Click for Tickets!


31 March 2001
Great news! Siobhan McCarthy is doing extremely well, out of hospital, and is absolutely on the mend.


15 March 2001
The Honolulu run has ended. Listening to the audience during every performance confirmed that the characters in the Broadway version are unpleasant (many people complained there was no one to root for), the story is unclear, motivations are even muddier, and that the score triumphs despite everything. At a Q & A after one performance, people were astounded to hear there was a totally different version that came before this one.

Triggered by that, and events in Stockholm, an open letter to the creators and producers of this show has been posted. Just my two cents.

Tragically, there is news that Siobhan McCarthy is gravely ill. She could use your prayers and good thoughts.


23 February 2001
I've added a lot of new Chess website links--sorry for not visiting you guys sooner! Our Honolulu company continues splendidly. Just a reminder, Mamma Mia! opens this week in Los Angeles. For a new Los Angeles Times interview with Björn Ulvaeus which does have some Chess mentions, click here.


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. The 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 Björn. 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. I am breaking my rule on adding pages for smaller productions as this is in my home town. Click on the link here or you can find a link on the Broadway page.


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
The 'New' Chess 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.


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 lyrics.


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 fitting here.

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
08-NOV-99
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.


Thanks for your patience. Comments, criticism and raspberries always welcome.







© 1991, 2001 - Sylvia Stoddard