2001 – Chess

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Chess was performed between Monday 24th September and Saturday 29th September 2001.

This highly acclaimed musical develops the ancient and distinguished game of chess into a metaphor for romantic rivalries and East-West political intrigue. The principal pawns form a love triangle: the loutish American Grandmaster, the earnest Russian champion, and the Hungarian-American female chess second, who arrives at the international championships with the American but falls for the Russian. From Tyrol to Thailand the players, lovers, politicians, CIA and KGB make their moves to the pulse of this monumental rock score. Several numbers, including “One Night in Bangkok” and “I Know Him So Well”, are international hits.

Chess, as a rock musical, was quite a departure for the society but, as usual, it was pulled off with huge audiences and great reviews. We were the first to present Chess on the amateur stage in the county and this was, also, the first time we performed at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton (we had previously performed at the Co-Op Arts Theatre – now called the Nottingham Arts Theatre – in Nottingham city centre).

The Story of Chess

Act 1

The world chess championship is being held in the northern Italian town of Merano. The brash American champion relishes the crowd’s affection, while his Russian challenger and Molokov, his second (actually a KGB agent), watch with curiosity and disdain on TV. The opening ceremony features an arbiter insisting on holding the proceedings together, US and Soviet diplomats vowing their side will win, and marketers just looking to make a buck. The American storms out of a rules meeting, leaving his second, Florence, in an argument with the Arbiter and the Russians. She later scolds him, but he insists that she, a child Émigré who escaped Hungary during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, should support him. Instead, she reflects that “nobody’s on nobody’s side.” The first game of the match goes badly, with dirty tricks nearly evolving into a brawl. A meeting to smooth things over goes badly and ends with the Russian and Florence together, where they quickly develop feelings for each other. As the matches continue, the American flounders and blames Florence, who leaves him. The Russian wins the championship, then defects to the west. Answering reporters’s questions about his loyalties, his “Anthem” declares that “my land’s only borders lie around my heart.”

Musical Numbers

The Story of Chess (Chorus & Arbiter)
Merano (Chorus & Freddie )
Commie Newspapers (Freddie & Florence)
Anatoly & Molokov Where I Want to Be (Anatoly)
Diplomats (Walter, Molokov, Florence & Chorus)
The Arbiter (Arbiter & Chorus) Hymn To Chess (Chorus)
The Merchandisers (Chorus) Chess (Orchestra (instrumental))
The Arbiter (reprise) (Arbiter)
A Model of Decorum and Tranquillity (Molokov, Florence, Arbiter & Anatol)
Florence and Molokov 1956 Budapest is Rising (Florence & Freddie)
Nobody’s Side (Florence) Mountain Duet (Florence & Anatoly)
Chess (Orchestra (Instrumental))
Florence Quits (Freddie & Florence)
Pity The Child (Freddie)
Someone Else’s Story (Florence)
Embassy Lament (Civil Servants)
Heaven Help My Heart (Florence)
Anatoly & the PressAnthem (Anatoly)

Act 2

A year later, the Russian is set to defend his championship in Bangkok, Thailand. The American is already there, chatting up locals about the nightlife. Florence and the Russian are now lovers, and upon hearing the news on the television that the Russian’s wife has been allowed to leave the USSR to attend the match, the couple argue. The wife and Florence both reflect on their relationships with him. The American goes to the Russian with information about Florence’s long-lost father, claiming that instead of being a hero as she believed, he was a collaborator. The Russian, and later Florence, dismiss him, unwilling to hear what he has to say. The American reflects on his life and his obsession with chess as a way to escape an unhappy childhood. In the deciding game of the match, The Russian manages an exceptional victory, and realizes that it may be the only success he can achieve–his wife castigates him for wallowing in the crowd’s empty praise. Both acknowledge they are doomed to care only for themselves. Later, he and Florence reflect on their story that seemed so promising, and how they “go on pretending/ stories like ours/ have happy endings.”

Musical Numbers

The Golden Bangkok (Orchestra (Instrumental))
One Night In Bangkok (Freddie & Chorus)
One More Opponent (Florence & Anatoly)
You And I (Florence & Anatoly)
The Soviet Machine (Molokov & Chorus)
The Interview (Freddie & Anatoly)
The Deal (Arbiter, Molokov, Florence, Svetlana, Freddie & Walter)
I Know Him So Well (Florence & Svetlana)
Talking Chess (Freddie & Anatoly)
Endgame (Anatoly, Florence, Svetlana, Molokov, Walter & Chorus)
You And I (Anatoly & Florence)

The Cast & Crew

The Cast

Frederick Trumper – Rob Corner
Florence Vassy – Carrie-Anne Corner
Anatoly Sergievsky – Colin Richmond
Alexander Molokov – John Henson
Walter de Courcey – David Heard
The Arbiter – John Maddison
Svetlana Sergievskaya – Anita Boyer

The Chorus

Anthea Hinchliffe, Barbara Doughty,
Carolyn Smith, Cheryl Camm, Cheryl Mills,
Claire Farrand,David Artiss, Dorothy Woodall,
Emma Brown, Fiona Newbould, Jane Cottee,
Jane Hough, John Carley, Katie Solomon,
Louis Ogando, Mollie Harword, Naomi Wakefield,
Nyree Griffin, Paul Lemon, Roma Drinkwater,
Ruth Maddison, Terry Payne, Val Sutton, Yvette Griffin

The Orchestra

Bass Guitar – Jeff Widdowson
French Horn – Mary-Ann Dye
Keyboard – Andrew Booth, Becky Entwistle, Derek Hunt
Lead Guitar – Lee Bartlet
Percussion – Brian Rodwell
Trombone – Jane Pendery
Trumpet – Charley Pender, Kev Dye
Woodwind – Alison Dennison, David Eno, Pete Bullock

The Production Team

Director – Philippa Lewis
Sound Engineer – Andy Onion
Lighting Engineer – Mark Lewis
Publicity Assistants – Claire Farrand, Barbara Doughty
Répétiteur – Ruth Viles
Stagecrew – David Hinchliffe, Michael Dowdeswell
Property Manager – Margaret Knight
Set Designer – Celia Birch
Stage Manager – Stuart Veitch
Assistant Musical Director – John Maddison
Musical Director – Russ Singleton
Video Engineer – Steve Mills