Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Sky's Musical Corner - CHESS The Musical

This year it’s my theatre group’s 30th anniversary and we are actually doing a show that celebrates 30 years this years as well. CHESS written by Tim Rice and Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (ABBA).

Here is some more information on the show:

Lyricist Tim Rice had long wanted to create a musical about the Cold War. During the mid-'70s, his idea for a musical about the Cuban Missile Crisis with his usual collaborator, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, never came to fruition. In the late '70s, Rice got the idea to tell his Cold War story through the prism of the long-standing U.S.-Soviet chess rivalry; he had earlier been fascinated by the political machinations of the 1972 "Match of the Century" between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. 
As Lloyd Webber was already well underway with his musical Cats, Rice was suggested to work with Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus instead, knowing that they were looking to develop and produce projects outside of ABBA. An ardent fan of the group, Rice agreed. He later wrote that he felt no reservations because "there is a sense of theatre in the ABBA style".  Rice met with the two in Stockholm for the first time in December 1981 in order to discuss the concept and they quickly signed on to the project.
All through 1982 and `83, the three men worked on the music and lyrics. Rice would describe the mood of particular songs he wanted, then Andersson and Ulvaeus would write and record the music and send the tapes to Rice, who would then write lyrics to fit the music, and send the resulting tapes back to Andersson and Ulvaeus and so on. Some of the songs on the resulting album contained elements of music Andersson and Ulvaeus had previously written for ABBA. For example, the chorus of "I Know Him so Well" was based on the chorus of "I Am an A," a song from their 1977 tour. Ulvaeus would also provide dummy lyrics to emphasise the rhythmic patterns of the music, and since Rice found a number of these "embarrassingly good" as they were, incorporated a few in the final version. The most well known example is "One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble".
„Partly to raise money in order to produce the show in the West End and partly to see how the material would fare with the public, it was decided to release the music as an album before any stage productions were undertaken, a strategy that had proven successful with Rice's two previous musicals, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. It was released in the autumn of 1984. Liner notes included with the album featured a basic synopsis of the story in multiple languages along with song lyrics. A single from the album, "One Night in Bangkok" became a worldwide smash, reaching #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The duet "I Know Him so Well" held the #1 spot on the UK singles charts for 4 weeks.“

Chess premièred in London's West End on 14 May 1986 at the Prince Edward Theatre. Set design included three videowalls, the main of which featured commentary from a chess master and appearances from various BBC newsreaders. The London version expanded the storyline of the concept album, adding considerable new recitative. The three principal singers from the concept album, Elaine Paige, Tommy Körberg and Murray Head reprised their roles on stage. The show won several musical awards and closed on 8 April 1989.“

„Subsequently and due to the fact, that the original creators allowed other productions to change plots, music and songs almost as they pleased, Chess was performed as musical or concert version all over the world including New York, Los Angeles, Sweden, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. A Broadway musical version was played only briefly, a concert version was played during the 1989 chess World Championship in Sweden, a performance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall was a huge success also as a CD/DVD in 2008.“

Source: Wikipedia

If you want to read more about the synopsis and the songs, you can go to our website: http://www.chessthemusical.ch/synopsis.html and find out more. 

I will be posting more on the show, our rehearsal and other things, so stay tuned. 

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