The Sydney Production

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SYDNEY Theatre Royal
Opened 3 February 1991. Closed July 1991.

The MLC Theatre Royal Company by arrangement with
3 Knights Ltd., The Shubert Organisation, Robert Fox, Ltd.


the musical by


FLORENCE VASSY.............Jodie Gillies
FREDDIE TRUMPER................David McLeod
ANATOLY SERGIEVSKY.............Robbie Krupski
SVETLANA SERGIEVSKY............Maria Mercedes
ALEXANDER MOLOKOV..............John Wood
THE ARBITER....................Laurence Clifford
WALTER de COURCEY..............David Whitney

The Main Set The Company: Dean Lotherington, Michael Turkic, Anhtai Anhtuan, Wilaluksana Ariyamethe, Robert Beryy, Emmma Callaghan, Chai, Chris Dickson, Rodney Dobson, Ramon Doringo, Di Emry, Duncan Esler, Ron Fung, Nicole Hamilton, Delia Hannah, Renee Isaacs, Angela Johnson, Jason Langley, Laura Lattuada, Michael James McCarren, Michael Montgomery, Angeline Nocera, Miki Oikawa, Anita Plateris, Wendy Purdy, Kathryn Sadler, Marcus Santos, Kris Schumacher, David Smith, Mariuan Chanophap Walsh, Jemma Wilks, Shu-Cheen Wong, Darren R. Yap, Hao Zhou

Directed by Jim Sharman
Set Designer Brian Thomson
Costume Designer Tess Schofield
Lighting Designer Nigel Levings
Orchestrations and arrangements by Alan John
Musical Diretor Michael Tyack
Choreographer Chrissie Koltai
Sound Designer Adrian Rutter
Associate Producer Ruth Yeatman
Co-Producers Kevin D. Earle
Frederick J. Gibson

Synopsis and Musical Numbers

(click on song titles for lyrics and photos)

The story begins with a ballet redolent of ancient Thai rituals with the "Story of Chess" played out by warriors and a queen. A brief scene in the hotel lobby introduces us to the characters: Freddie, Florence and Walter, Anatoly, Molokov and Svetlana (she's in the top of the show for the first time, and an equal to the other main characters). "One Night in Bangkok" introduces the city, and it's sung by both Freddie and Anatoly, united in curiosity and tourism before the competition begins. The scene in the Arbiter's chambers, the children's hymn"Tournament Anthem," The Arbiter's Song," "U.S. vs. U.S.S.R" and "The Merchandiser's Song" are mixed and blended together, followed by the "Quartet," which is staged on the chessboard. In Florence and Freddie's bedroom ("Argument/Nobody's Side"), battle begins. Florence, long in Freddie's shadow, is fighting for her soul. In Anatoly and Svetlana's bedroom, we learn he's tired of his wife, Russia, chess and his life ("Where I Want to Be"). In the hotel lobby bar, the chorus and the Arbiter comment on relationships, romance and life("Cocktail Chorus"). Molokov finds "this new openness is such a strain." He longs for the Cold War days when dealing with opposite numbers was easier: "You knew you couldn't trust them." The chorus comments again, setting up the duet, where Florence is truly entranced by the sexy Russian ("Terrace Duet"). Freddie and Anatoly square off in "No Contest" (originally written for Walter and Freddie) then Florence breaks up with Freddie ("Florence Quits"). Anatoly wins the next game and, with Walter's help, defects, asking Florence to share his new life in the West ("Heaven Help My Heart"). Svetlana is devastated, Molokov astounded, Freddie furious. The act ends with the entire company singing "One night in Bangkok and the world's in turmoil, not much between despair and ecstasy...."

Theatre Royal, Sydney

The second act opens with "Embassy Lament" while Anatoly cools his heels waiting for his papers. Svetlana and Anatoly have an emotional scene together ("You and I"), then Anatoly says goodbye to Russia ("Anthem"). Svetlana says her goodbye to their life together ("Someone Else's Story"). Freddie catches Florence moving her luggage and they also have a memory-filled goodbye. He's more upset than he lets her see, and soothes his ego with "Pity the Child." Molokov and his cohorts then unite in "The Soviet Machine," now set in a sports club where they plot how to turn the situation to their advantage. Molokov and Walter work out a deal ( "The Deal I") whereby Molokov will give Florence evidence proving her father is still alive in Prague if Walter "Let's Work Together" gives Anatoly the bureaucratic run-around. "The Deal II" is sought between all of the principal players, culminating in "I Know Him So Well," now sung by Florence about Freddie and Svetlana about Anatoly. "Endgame" has the force of London plus the clarity of New York, with Anatoly and Freddie in pitched battle for the championship. Anatoly wins, decides to return to Moscow and Svetlana. She's a graceful winner and there's a nice moment of compassion for Florence. Walter reveals it's all for naught, that the papers from Prague are suspect. She and Svetlana part with respect and she and Anatoly part with regret ( "You and I"). But Florence's cry at the end is hopeful: she's lost Freddie, Anatoly and her father but has found herself.


© 2001,2018 - Sylvia Stoddard