Musical about rivalry and romance

Michaelhouse pupils Menziwokuhle Mbuyazi and Grant Hiscock are among the cast of Chess, the musical at the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse from August 13 to 16.

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BY BILLY SUTER

THE story of a politically driven, Cold War-era chess tournament between two men – a US grandmaster and a Soviet grandmaster – and their fight over a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other.

That, in a nutshell, is Chess, the musical which, created by the men from Abba (Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus) with lyricist Tim Rice, is to be performed by teenagers at Michaelhouse’s Schlesinger Theatre from Sunday, August 13, to Wednesday, August 16.

A collaboration between pupils at Michaelhouse and St Anne schools, the musical is noted for the hits One Night in Bangkok and I Know Him So Well, and the rousing Anthem. It is an acclaimed show using the game of chess as a metaphor for romantic rivalries and East-West political intrigue.

Chess first appeared as a popular concept album in 1984, and that same year had a European concert tour. It reached London’s West End in 1986, playing there for three years, and opened on Broadway in 1988, where it had only a two-month run.

Interestingly, Wikipedia reports that the show placed seventh in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the UK’s “Number One Essential Musicals”.

The site also reports that Tim Rice announced that after a recent successful table reading, a long-awaited revival of the musical, with a restructured storyline, will be staged on Broadway in late 2018. The new show will feature a book penned by Danny Strong and will be directed by Michael Mayer.

Michaelhouse pupils Menziwokuhle Mbuyazi and Grant Hiscock.

The story is loosely based on the Bobby Fischer story, the American grandmaster with crazy demands and bad manners, who is Freddie in the Chess story, says a Michaehouse spokesman.

The serious Russian champion, Anatoly, and the Hungarian-American Florence complete the love triangle.

Florence arrives at the international chess championships with the American but falls for the Russian. From Italy to Thailand the players, lovers, politicians, CIA and KGB make their moves to the pulse of a rock score.

The Michaelhouse production sees Abri Venter conducting the music and William le Cordeur directing.

Performances are scheduled for 2pm on Sunday (August 13), then at 7pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (August 14, 15 and 16). Tickets cost R120 (R80 for school pupils). Complementary tea and eats will be served, and a cash bar will be available.

Bookings are online: https://www.tickethut.co.za/michaelhouse/events/chess-the-musical/

 


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