Director and Concert Adaptation
On Monday May 12 and Tuesday May 13, 2008 at the Royal Albert Hall, London, there were two spectacular, standing room only, performances of Chess in Concert, with story and lyrics by Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, The Lion King) and music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (Mamma Mia!), formerly of ABBA.
Leading the cast were top-selling US recording artiste, Josh Groban, Broadway’s Idina Menzel (Wicked) and Adam Pascal (RENT), and the West End’s Kerry Ellis (Wicked and We Will Rock You), Clarke Peters (Porgy and Bess) and David Bedella (Jerry Springer, The Opera). Playing The Arbiter was the chart-topping Wet Wet Wet singer, Marti Pellow. Also featured were the Chess in Concert company, the 100 strong West End Chorus and the City of London Philharmonic with Stephen Disley playing the great organ of the Royal Albert Hall. Tim Rice introduced both performances in front of packed houses and was delighted to see the spontaneous standing ovations at the end of each Act.
Chess involves a romantic triangle between two players in a World Chess Championship, and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the characters' personalities are loosely based on those of Victor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer who died earlier in 2008.
Following the formula of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, a concept album of Chess was recorded in 1984 and generated a number of hit singles. The first theatrical version of Chess opened in London's West End in 1986 and played for three years.
Tim Rice has said he hopes that Chess in Concert will be the model of future productions.