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The Very Popular Theatre Company's Musical Director, Dan Wilson reflects on the  musicals most noted historic productions.

Date posted: 2nd March, 2019

Author: Dan Wilson

Production: Chess

Chess, the musical opened in London 1986 starring Elaine Paige, Tommy

Korberg and Murray Head, but began life as a concept album two years

earlier.  With lyrics by Tim Rice (Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King)

and music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, the BB of the pop group

ABBA, swiftly generated two hit singles with One Night In Bangkok and

I Know Him So Well. With three successful years on the London stage the

show started to move around the globe with mixed success.


After some American rewrites the show didn’t translate to Broadway

audiences the same way it did in London, but drew rave reviews for it’s stars

Judy Kuhn and David Carroll.  Eventually the show opened in 1990 at the

Theatre Royal, Sydney, after another set of rewrites, starring Jodie Gillies,

Robbie Krupski, David McLeod, John Wood and Maria Mercedes.  Two of

the most successful productions of Chess have both happened in London.  

First as a concert production at the Royal Albert Hall in 2008 starring Idina Menzel, Josh Groban, Adam Pascal, Kerry Ellis and Marti Pelow and the second, a production at the English National Opera in 2018 starring Michael Ball, Cassidy Jansson, Alexandra Burke and Tim Howar, with an ensemble of 44 and the full ENO orchestra of 50 this production has been one of the largest produced.


Prince Edward Theatre, London previews began 5 May and opened 14 May 1986.

This will be the second production of Chess in Newcastle. The first being produced in 1995 at the Mission Theatre featuring Sharon Stoltenberg, Don McEwan, Derek Dowding, Jenny Newman and Byron Littlewood.


Over the years Chess has been performed successfully in concerts all over the world from the United States, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Hungary, Austria and Helsinki owing majorly to it’s score that features the hits, ‘Pity The Child’, ‘Anthem’, ‘You And I’, ‘Someone Else’s Story’ and ‘Nobody’s Side’.


The cast of Chess (1986). Photo: Conrad Blakemore

By Dan Wilson for The Very Popular Theatre Company

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