CHESS Royal Albert Hall – I was there… (Opinions keep on coming!)

For those icethesite visitors who also attended, please add your thoughts and reviews and let’s see what we all made of this wonderful occasion.

14th May (19.27) – I have just posted some more images from Monday night’s performance.

139 Replies to “CHESS Royal Albert Hall – I was there… (Opinions keep on coming!)”

  1. Me again!!!!!!

    I agree that some of the "wordiness" of the show is not understandable – as with the original…. That’s why the screened lyrics added a bit more to those more complicated songs… It’s a shame that the performers are being looked down on for singing "Someone Elses Lyrics"!

  2. For the first time in my life I’ve travelled to an other country to see a show and I thought it was amazing ! Of course it could have a little bit to do with he fact that I was in THE royal albert hall (loved it). The sound was great. I couldn’t here the words but then again I never can :o) I was a little bit disappointed when I heard Indina sing I totally did not like her voice but later on it was better. Josh was absolutely brilliant and also the choir was wonderful.
    At the end it was all a bit to much, ending up in a big contest who can sing loudest. But all together I would not have missed it for the world !

  3. sitting in the circle I heard every word – including all of the new lyrics. I think we’ve said all there needs to be said on the sound and casting "issues". Let’s talk CHESS. Tim has done a great job to tidy this show up without massacring it like benny and bjorn did in Sweden. He took it back to its roots and proved it does work as a story. Well done Tim. I am so pleased I am not the only chess fan in the world. Can we start a club.. 10.000 fans in 2 days – surely there is soemthign we can do?

  4. Leepy…. the entire hall was not on its feet for a standing ovation on Tuesday as I (and quite a few other people around me) did not stand up once….

    Personally I feel I have every right to express my disappointment in the sound quality as (like everyone) I paid a considerable amount of money… and yes if you have paid £65+ a ticket is it really too much to ask for adequate rehearsals to be undertaken…

    I would possibly consider buying the DVD purely for the fact that I assume the sound issue would have been rectified before release…. and because I would love to have an idea of what was actually being sung…

  5. I have to agree with my namesake Liz who posted just before me, there were a few people near me too who steadfastly refused to stand.

    I was one who joined the ovation for, on the Tuesday night, I thought that the effort shown by all and the effect that the show had on me was outstanding. Aside from the obvious miscasting of Florence, that is.

    Well done again to the choir and orchestra.

  6. I guess we all want CHESS back where it belongs – in the West End and/or on Broadway. Fair enough, "they" – that’s if that’s what it is! – have to try things out before any further decisions can be taken, and in those terms the Albert Hall concerts were a perfect opportunity – but one that was missed altogether.

    What gives Tim Rice the right to assume that this was the ‘definte! version? 500+ deluded and totally cazy Groban fans, mostly from America and who would have given Groban a standing ovation if, lets face it, he had urinated in front of them, are clearly not a reflection of an average London audience. Who is Rice kidding with this?

    People want more – a stage presence, which Groban did not have, I am afraid, and let’s not even talk about the totally impossible and unsuitable Menzel. In any case, if Rice had REALLY wanted to try something new, he would have moved away from the, let’s say, somewhat acceptable London verson of Chess to a new one, with perhaps a totally new book, or at least he would have tried to incorporate some of the ideas from the Swedish production.

    Just repeating something that was flawed to begin with is clearly not the answer, as nice as it was to listen to the better parts of the London production of Chess that I hadn’t been able to enjoy for 20 years.

  7. @U (above)

    Josh Groban was nothing but good for these shows. So some people in the UK might not know him yet or have bought his music but he had the biggest selling album in the States in 2007 and regularly sells out massive arenas there.

    He doesn’t do Chess for the money (and this is, of course the second time he has thrown his weight behind a production), he does it because he loves Chess The Musical and we all benefit as a result in packed out houses.

    His fans are as crazy and deluded as ABBA fans, some of whom stalk Agnetha Fältskog and others who think it’s fair game to lay their child in front of ABBA’s motor cavalcade in order that they can get an autograph.

    I’m not a Josh fan, I am an ABBA fan but Josh’s support of Tim Rice’s venture does nothing but good for CHESS and I can imagine the organisers delight when he said he would do CHESS again. It doesn’t hurt one iota that he can also sing a bit!! 😉

    He’s not a theatrical performer and he’s not an actor, he’s a singer and as such, probably the #1 choice to perform Anatoly now that Tommy Körberg is past his best.

  8. We went on Monday night and left the concert very disappointed both with some of the casting and the very poor sound quality. I don’t normally read reviews after an event but I have this time as I just wanted to check whether it was just me and my husband or whether others had suffered from the same disappointment and from the reviews it seems that we were not alone. After spending over 70+ on tickets the audience were entitled to a programme that had more rehearsal than was indicated by a’soloist’ earlier on in this thread and I quote" Well, to be honest, we only had the chance for a tech run on monday for about 4 hours. This included sorting out mics/lights/staging..etc.. so they had to deal with the sound while we were running the show.The sound on monday was indeed rubbish,we all knew that,however this was sorted out on tuesday.
    I don’t know if people realize that we only had a week and a half to rehearse this show?? That is a very very short time, for a lot of music to get through" Quite frankly the audience expect a thoroughly prepared work, and as professionals I am surprised that as their reputations were at stake, the singers did not make sure that enough time was given to rehearse. Due to the lack of rehearsal time the reviews have been far more negative and somehow I doubt Idina will be asked to sing Florence again. We paid well over 200 pounds including train fares to struggle to hear this rubbish sound and it supposedly being sorted out on Tuesday (although from many of the comments I do doubt this)did nothing to lessen our disappointment. Hopefully someone somewhere will really think hard before they cast this show and decide on a theatre as hard as I will think before I buy tickets to see Chess again.

  9. Oh God, If I hear one more person say the sound was bad or Florence was miscast or moan about the ticket price (tickets for Madonna’s tour START at £55 and she’s not a woman known for holding a note) I might through a Freddie Trumper-style fit! These things we know already guys. But are they the only things anyone noticed about what was otherwise a valliant stab at dusitng Chess off and giving the wonderful score a long-overdue airing?

  10. oh, and another thing. If the sound was so dire how come it’s pretty good on the clips of the concert that have popped up on YouTube? And they, remember, were captured on mobile phones! I didn’t experience any particular sound problems from where I was sitting (in the stalls) though that was Tuesday admittedly.

  11. Leepy – as you "didn’t experience any particular sound problems from where you were sitting" (i.e YOU were one of the lucky ones!!!!) I would imagine that is probably the reason why you are not complaining along with the rest of us… I was also in the stalls on Tuesday but could not hear at least 80%

    I have not complained about the quality of the singing…. to the contrary I am sure the singing was amazing which is why I was so disappointed not to hear most of it… Regarding Madonna she may not have the best voice but I bet you anything that the audience will be able to make out what she is singing…

    I mentioned the cost of the tickets because I personally do not have a great deal of money… I spent the necessary amount because I absolutely love Josh Groban’s voice. I was also very pleased to be introduced to Kerry Ellis as when I could hear her she sounded amazing….

    Re mobile phone clips on YouTube – someone in an earlier post mentioned that it seemed to depend on where you were sitting as the sound quality appeared very patchy….

    However, on a more positive note the problems with Tuesday’s performance has not put me off… I would love to see Chess again in some shape or form so that I can truly appreciate the music and the story…

    I am one UK fan who has definitely discovered Josh Groban, though I am not one of those scary fans who hang around the stage door to frighten him on the way out…. 🙂

  12. l have never felt the need to ever add any comments about a show before. But like the majority of people on this site we went on Tuesday night and could not understand a word of what was being sung. Luckly 3 out of the 4 of us had seen the show before. For our poor friend and others around us who were not familiar with the music we had to spend the interval trying to explain the story. l have e.mailed the Royal Albert Hall about the quality of the sound and got a reply by return. They are a receiving house and had an external company responsible for the promotion and sound system. They said that they had received similar complaints to mine and were investigating these with the promotor and would reply to me as soon as they have any news. l suggest that if enough of us e.mail The Albert Hall then they must take note. From someone who was so looking forward to this concert for months to feel like this – its a shame.

  13. Just to spin last night?s ideas a little further. If the production we saw at the RAH earlier this week didn?t work for many of us, what would perhaps work?

    To me, it is not a case of somebody thinking they got it right this time and declaring it definite, pick a new cast (and we do need a new generation if this show is to be staged again in the Westend or on Broadway) and produce it behind closed doors according to their own ideas. It has never worked with Chess.

    London was a reasonably good production with a solid cast, but the 2nd act never worked well. The show ran for almost 3 years in a big theatre, fair enough, but for the last year, possibly even the last 15 months, it just limped along, with the box office selling student stand-by tickets to anyone under the age of 50 and OAP stand-by tix to anyone over 50 to fill the many empty seats. Produced in the dark 80s, when ABBA was not on the agenda and when the cold war was coming to an end, perhaps the audience was not ready for it yet.

    New York was a catastrophy, a cast that, with the exception of Judy Kuhn, failed to convince, random changes like turning Budapest into Prague, the new ending, and a set that left a lot to be desired. It closed with huge losses after just a few weeks, having been butchered by the critics ? rightly so. At least it gave us Someone Else?s Story. Of course, this production also suffered from the 80s problems.

    Stockholm was yet another new approach, one that worked well in parts but that still left us with a 2nd act that could not convince fully. The Arbiter scenes were a sick mockery, the whole idea of the 2nd act playing in Bangkok was scrapped, but it gave us You Are a Man, you Are a Child, a much needed addition to boost the role of Svetlana. The audiences loved the show, and a 2-year run in such a huge theatre in a small country like Sweden can only be described as sensational although the production clearly was boosted by the ABBA revival.

    I am not going into this week?s concerts here because they have been discussed to death at this point, but they clearly give any production team the wrong ideas, in particular when they have audiences full of fans of particular artists who will clap and give standing ovations regardless. They are not the kind of audiences that sustain a Westend or Broadway production for years.

    What could work in the furture? Perhaps they need to go a totally new way that doesn?t just impose a definite production ON the audience ? it has never worked with Chess – but rather creates a new production WITH the audience:

    – Initial auditions, followed by workshops where the potential principals are tried out further and can prove that they have the right voice AND acting skills for a part AND have a stage presence;
    – Open workshops that include members of the public (and I am not just talking about fans of whoever or whatever here but rather mostly members of the general public because, let?s face it, they are the ones who buy the majority of tickets and keep a show open for years) who are asked for their opinions;
    – Create a provisional production and rent a local theatre like the one in Wimbledon. Put on experimental versions that change every night for two weeks to see what really works with the audience. THEN you can perhaps speak about a definite production.

    This may sound like a lot of hassle, but it is ultimately cheaper than creating another flop or a show that limps along and just about recovers the production costs. Let?s face it, Chess has only got one more chance. If it doesn?t work this time round in the Westend and/or on Broadway, it is dead.

  14. Hi, I went last tuesday (on my birthday), and I had seats practically on stage. These days I fly to London at least once a year to see the latest musicals, but in 1986 Chess was my first musical ever. Having been an ABBA fan since I was born, I knew the musical by heart, and it was a memorable experience. So this time my expectations were high. I only knew Kerry Ellis (I saw her in Wicked last year), and I love the strenght and the colour of her voice. I have to say, the whole night was fantastic, and everybody very well cast: Ellis, Menzel and Groban of course, but also Adam Pascal. I think his song are the most difficult with very high notes. I remember that Murray Head wasn’t able to sing them very well and he sang the song very freely, and unable to pitch the high notes. So I was very impressed with Pascal’s wide range of voice. Also he was very much "into" the story. The chorus was impressive with very funny movements. Also the dancers and dances were very good and original, despite the limited space. The projections really added something to the evening, and didn’t distract too much from the singers. I think the storyline was much improved and it’s much more clear why the characters do what they do, and the end makes more sense. OK, the sound system was horrible with a lot of echo, and deep in my heart I wished Elaine and Tommy were on stage), but the evening was magic, and I can’t wait to see it back on DVD, and hear it on CD!

  15. I attended Tuesdays performance along with 2 friends, unfortunately the only tickets available were on the back row of the circle to the right of the stage and from where we were sitting the sound problems had not been resolved from the first night.

    I think that some people are missing the point, I don’t beleive anyone would have minded paying the price they did, if they could have understood what was being sung, the general sound of the music and voices was excellent but the diction was lost.

    The three of us hadn’t seen the show, so no one was able to interpret what was happening, it was all the more frustrating because it was potentially a great event.

    Particular praise for Josh, Anthem was amazing, and Kerry. The biggest dissapointment was Clarke Peters, just didn’t get chance to enjoy him.

    Having never attended a concert performance of a show we had no idea what to expect, we thought that it would be just singing, so anything else was a bonus – just as well in this case.

    As far as buying the DVD or CD yes we will be buying it as I imagine that he sound problems will be ironed out and we will at last be able to hear what we should have on the night.

    What is the point in comparing this to Maddona, it is completely different, her singing may not be up to the standard of the performers here, but she does put on an amazing show and the sound has been crystal clear whenever I have seen her.

  16. First, where were the "Chess" and ABBA fans at RAH??? The audience was composed of Groban and "Wicked" fans almost exclusively. I was so amazed not to see the usual groups at the concert.

    As for the concert, excuse the very long review, but so many things need to be addressed.

    It is always wonderful to hear/see this show. Even the worst, botched versions or combinations of versions have something to offer.

    After a recent "Les Mis" in Concert, I was wary of contemporary singers in this or any big legit show. I was right to be concerned.

    First: the show. So many people went up on so many lines, it’s hard to know if any were intentional changes. In addition, the sound board operator should be shot. Nearly everyone had the first lines of songs cut off by their mics being turned off, and some were sabotaged at the beginning of every verse. The sound balance was awful–the orchestra was too soft and dead-sounding in the first act (this is the May 12 performance), and the orchestra drowned out the singers in the second act.

    Thus, commenting on changes is hard. Freddie’s "Pity the Child" was moved to the second act, which is fine and helps integrate him into the second half, but you can’t move that song and then throw out "Florence Quits," which was done. If Florence never breaks up with Freddie, what is the show about??? Svetlana was given "Someone Else’s Story" but she sang the original lyrics written for Florence on Broadway, and they don’t make any sense at all for Svetlana. Lyrics for Svetlana were written for the Sydney version and those should have been used. They flesh out her character and make sense.

    Dancers=Yikes! Someone saw the British Tour of the show where the director felt no one could sit still for a chess match and put dancers (in hideous gray splotchy unitards) on in front of the matches, which destroyed the tension. Here, dancers in white clam-digger pants from Marks & Spencer were thrown onto the stage at random times, always ruining the continuity and they totally destroyed "Endgame," the single most theatrical show-ender ever (the London version, that is). They nearly kicked Josh Groban in the nose while he was singing his most dramatic lines of the night.

    The performances. Almost uniformly bad. It’s clear that "Wicked" and "Rent" must require minimal acting, because none of the veterans of those shows could act. Josh Groban sang Anatoly well, but without a single hint of emotion. Idina Menzel sang Florence like Minnie Mouse. Adam Pascal was excellent as Freddie. But the standout of the entire show was the David Bedella (Molokov). The actor has 30 years of experience on Broadway and it showed. Other than Bedella and Pascal, no one even tried to interact with any other characters. It must have been so hard for Pascal when he’s getting zilch back from Groban or Menzel in their scenes.

    You also do not have both males and females singing backup for "Nobody’s Side." Doesn’t work. Women only. And you don’t cast an Arbiter who doesn’t dance. There is a dance break in "Arbiter’s Song" and the guy just stood there. He also lacked the imperiousness so necessary for the character.

    This is a terribly difficult show to sing and to act convincingly, especially with the well-known book problems. They can be overcome with exceptional acting, but not in a concert version. Especially one which omits the very song that sets the plot in motion! It’s complicated and needs major care in diction and staging to be understood. Jim Sharman did it in Sydney, but no one else really ever has. The London staging was so impressive in many ways despite the warring Nunn/Bennett influences. The revolving stage was so spectacular, so stunning, that it made up for a lot. I can never see "The Deal" without longing for that stage, and it was vital for "Endgame."

    There has never been better staging of "Endgame" than in London. You do NOT

  17. I went on Tuesday night – unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I did not see the entire performance.

    But I liked what I did see, speaking as a ‘CHESS’ novice.

    Big moment no. 1 – ‘Anthem’
    Big moment no. 2 – ‘Someone Else’s Story’

    Want to see CHESS again (all of it this time – I missed ‘I Know Him So Well’) !!

  18. Very intelligent discussion going on here, I must say! A reflection of the brilliance and high standards of us CHESS-ites.

    Now:
    1. Idina Menzel was miscast, and was in fact AWFUL. Too nasal, tinny, too loud and therefore poor balance with other voices. She is NOT a good ensemble player and cannot act (although she is fairly good in the film "Enchanted").

    2. Marti Pellow – disappointing. Nice presence and demeanour, but not enough gravitas, and vocally out of his depth.

    3. Josh Groban – excellent. Has stage presence in spades as well as the obviously brilliant voice! The big surprise was his wonderful acting. What a complete performer. Hope he makes his desired return to musical theatre soon.

    Best moments
    A. Kerry Ellis’s "Someone Else’s Story" – this was a revelation and it just shaded

    B. Josh Groban’s "Anthem."

  19. I’m still so sad that i couldn’t go to either of the shows!!But it’s good to read all your comments.(although i’m sure some are way over the top).
    Lucky for me i found out people are selling signed brochures on ebay,so hooray!! At least i can get something of that day !!
    I do hope they will revive the show again!

  20. I am really glad I didn’t go.

    I just couldn’t have stood the inner critical voice that I would I have been hearing all night had I seen the show.

    I’ve seen far too many CHESS incarnations and each one just diminishes the memory of a show that was great as a production, if a little flawed in the narrative.

    I’ll wait until a new Three Knights production surfaces before I see this again.

    Can’t be doing with all these substandard productions of an otherwise great score.

    Alex J

  21. I was there on the 13th. It’s so amazing I wish all the composers will be there on stage! I travel down from Edinbrugh to London. 4 hours on train, all my tried was just gone with this performance. Absolutely amazing!

  22. I came from Tampere, Finland and thanks to this site, saw both nights.

    I was disappointed with Monday I have to say but Tuesday’s performance nearly blew me away! And made the trip worthwhile.

    I teach musical theater in a country with almost no tradition of its own and CHESS has always been my favorite score. To that end, on Tuesday at least, I devoured the score highlights ‘Pity The Child’, ‘Someone Else’s Story’, ‘Anthem’ (of course) and ‘Endgame’.

    ‘Nobody’s Side’ didn’t reach the parts I’d hoped it would and whilst ‘Heaven Help My Heart’ was pretty, Idina Menzel was not successful at portraying Florence this time around. Maybe things…nerves? lack of rehearsal time? under direction? illness? got to her. Or maybe she was just not right?

    I don’t agree that Josh Groban was a superb actor but I do agree that he sang well and boy, he needed to, or the whole show might have gone to hell in a handbasket!

    Adam Pascal was just great! So, was Kerry Ellis – she must be smug reading the almost 100% positive reviews here. Marti Pillow was disappointing but he did try hard and seemed engaged (esp. on Tuesday), unlike Ms. Menzel.

    Sound quality? Well, it wasn’t perfect on Tuesday (but I’m getting the impression that a lot of it depends on where you sit in the Royal Albert Hall) and was absolutely dreadful on Monday – particularly in the first half.

    The show? Well, I’m very familiar with many versions but I do like the original London production most and also the Sydney one got a lot of things right – and this could have done with a few more influences from the Australian production – but overall it was hot.

    It was better than the Swedish show, which started out as promised in a cinematic (and highly promising) fashion but wound up as a sub-standard Kristina från Duvemåla dirge-fest. No-one mention the acrobats for goodness sake! I *did* like the extra songs for Svetlana and Molokov though.

    Am I glad I came to London? You betcha! Did I just buy my first Josh Groban CD? Yup! Did I raise to my feet at the end of both acts? Sure did! And did the music/atmosphere/occasion move me close to tears (on Tuesday)? Very!

    Kiitos Ice for a great website.

  23. I wasn’t at the show and I don’t even know much about Chess – but one thing is for sure after reading this thread, I’ll be buying the DVD.

    I’ve just got to see what all the fuss is about 😉

  24. has anyone seen somewhere that the concert is gonna be on dvd? Somewhere officially i meen! Or is this just rumours?

  25. Sylvia….
    "Kicks above the waistline", was sung to a man in the original London production, it was a man dressed as a woman…I know the guy who played the part. "Florence Quits" was in but "Argument" wasn’t. Otherwise I agree with your critique completely..

  26. Ian/Sylvia – In the first 2 previews in the West End, Argument was in the production but was cut as TR didnt feel it worked. I liked it!! I have some pics somewhere of "kicks above the waistline" & Ill dig them out one !!!!

  27. …if I did have one criticism, it would have to be about changing one line of the lyrics.

    That huge dramatic intro into ‘Nobodies Side’ where he sings – ‘wouldn’t your father have beggeg you to stay in the game’ and she responds – HE WOULD! – but he didn’t know you – he’d LOATH your behaviour AND SO DO I…" one of my favorite bits – emotionally cutting, setting up the next part perfectly – lost, cut, gone! Do I need to start a facebook group – bring it back Tim Rice – its very very important 😉

  28. I went to see "Chess In Concert" Monday night. Yes, it was a great show. However, the token-popstar in the cast, Marti Pellow, really let the side down. He sounded like an amateur amongst professionals; his acting was decidedly wooden (this was a semi-staged production.) And the less said about his singing the better; I shall therefore limit myself to one word: pitiful. Josh Groban was the standout: what a voice!! His "Anthem" (end of Act 1) was simply stupendous. Hurrah!!

  29. I believe I was the first person to review the Tuesday concert after coming home after the show,on reflection I would like to make one or two points. I did not mention Marti Pellow,probably because I did not remember much about his performance.Its funny about role of the arbitor,because his some of his words "watching all 64" "now be good boys" from his "referee song" are some of the catchiest from the show,and infact his song should not steal the show but as perhaps the most ABBERISH song in the show it can well do so if performed well.I cant remember it from Pellow so I think that gives it away.The other thing I did not remember from the show from 21 years ago and honestly I love Chess,infact I think its my favourite musical,is the fact that Freddie Trumper is not Anatloys oppeneny in Bankok! I know very stupid of me,but on reflection one of the things the New York production or should I say the New York benefit production of 2003 had on "our " show was the way that "Someone Elses Story" was introduced after the meeting of Svetanava and Anatoly and the way that "Pity the Child " came after the sneering press conference ,NOT the TV interview between Freddie and Anatoly.I think we only want to have a bit of "pity" for Freddie if you like because of his nastiness towards the Russian. I dont think this came across in the concert.However much I enjoyed Tuesday night and I loved it,some things have got to be sorted out with the story and how and when songs are presented,anyway thats my opinion.

  30. Dave,
    I agree, it is my favourite lyric too, it cuts right to the point…also "argument" has the same impact…I remember seeing original London production and felt let down when "argument" didn’t happen. For me also the original concept lyrics to "You and I"

  31. Katie – the the pics. I have asked "ice" re getting them up (!) & we’ll see what develops….Kevin

  32. I seem lucky enough. I went to the concert on the 13th and sat next to a camera man in the stables, so had a pretty good few on the stage, thank god for the zoom 🙂

    Anyway, Idina Menzel was kinda squeeky, it was clear as soon as Kerry Ellis was on stage. She actually brought tears to my eyes, which not even Josh Groban managed.

    I’ve never heard of Chess before until about 3 weeks before the show but having said that, I couldn’t get the whole story. Maybe I wasn’t close enough to the stage or speakers, maybe I was just not able to concentrate enough, cause at this stage I was up for over 14 hours (flying over to London, walking around, finding my hotel, finding the RAH, getting used to traffic…) or maybe the the actors weren’t as good in singing as everybody expected them to be. It’s not my place to judge that. The only time I am singing is in the shower. But even though I couldn’t understand everything and didn’t get the whole storyline, (the big Screen was a little bit confusing) I really enjoyed myself.

    I’d say lots of people, including me, just went to Chess to see Josh Groban but all I was talking about for the past few times when I talked about Chess was Kerry Ellis. She made the Show worth while for me .

    Thank you.

  33. Sorry this is a bit long ? however I am very passionate about the show.

    OK ? I have been contemplating writing for the last week or so. A bit of background ? I should point out first of all that I have loved CHESS for so long, and played it so often, that it is engrained in my DNA!! I missed the 1984 concerts, but shortly after that started following events, gatecrashed rehearsals & even went to the premier & cast parties, including the closing one. Unlike my friends I never went to the premieres abroad, so I am unable to offer comparisons with those productions. Aside from knowing their reputations, I also had no prior knowledge of Idina or Kerry, and the only knowledge I had of Josh was an appearance on ?You Could be Joseph? and listening to a (rather boring I thought) cd of my dads.

    I purchased tickets for the Tuesday night performance as soon as they were released, managing to secure tickets in the 4th row stalls ? right in the centre. My wife, friends & my mum ( love her) sat with me. Other friends who are big Wicked fans sat just behind.

    So for the performance. In most senses, it was a carbon copy of the London production. Aside from Someone Elses?s Story being included, and Pity The Child (full version) being moved from Act I to Act II, the running order was basically the same. A lot of the multimedia had gone, as well as the revolving stage. There were many lyric changes however, which I think improved the clarity of the plot. One exception to this was the Arbiter reprise. Instead of the normal CD version, the London version went:

    ?Why All These Pawns on Heavens Board, Of all officials ? Why Me Oh Lord? ? The Greatest Insult Suffered Yet ? By My Profession and do Not forget. Im the Arbiter??! etc etc.

    And I much preferred that one!!!!

    Multimedia ? aside from the beginning ?Chessboard disintegration? I thought it was very average. It looked like someone?s High School project. The scenes, for example, taking place in Hotel Rooms with just 2 pillows and a room number, were very bad, and suffered from lack of animation. At one point I said to my mum ? ?has the slide show got stuck??. It served a purpose, but could have been greatly improved. I wonder how much they paid for it? I would have liked to have seen the words for ?The Merchandisers? on the screen ? there are witty & clever but if you don?t know them, sometimes they are hard to understand.

    Choir ? truly fantastic. Funny, joyful & seemed to love taking part. As a combined effort, one of the stars of the show.

    Conductor ? fantastic. He was also having fun & seems to love the score. Sheer enjoyment on his face whenever he turned around.

    Dancers ? great idea, replacing some of the multimedia from the original production. However, the stage was too small for them to have a huge effect, and they looked a little clumsy – check out some of the Youtube clips taken from the circle/boxes. If the show is repeated, their staging really needs to be examined more.

    Sound ? not up to scratch. 4 hours rehearsal time on this huge production, in a venue like that? Shocking. With the difficulties of the acoustics in a building of its age & structure, BB& T should have known there could be problems. I know it?s not the same scale but I have seen bands play there, as well as Elaine Paige twice, and there have not been anything like the glitches. I hardly think that Eric Clapton would have regularly chosen the RAH for his mammoth run of January gigs if he thought sound would be a major issue for his team. At £65 a ticket (& more) a huge effort should have been made to ensure the punters got the sound they deserved??

    Principals:

    Marti Pellow ? I came not expecting much. Most of the people I went with said he was terrible, and even my Marti loving wife said she wouldn?t be going to see him in ?The Witches of Eastwick?. However, I thought he was OK. His pop voice can?t keep up with most of the others on stage though. Also ? compare him to Tom Jobe from the London production

  34. Hey Maria, in answer to your question, it will definitely be released on DVD, and possibly also CD or DVD/CD combo (confirmed by a friend at the record label responsible), but no release date is confirmed yet. When I hear more I will send info to ICE or post in the threads….

  35. We flew from Chicago to see Chess – and visit beautiful London. While we love theater at home, we certainly aren’t critics since we always enjoy everything we see and appreciate the efforts of every actor involved.

    Tuesday night was no exception for us. The only thing that’s ever seemed to slow things down for me are sometimes stage changes and the occasional song that just seems to drag on and on, but that was far from the case during Chess. It’s exactly my kind of theater. The orchestra, choir and dancers were divine – not to mention the entire cast. Josh, Adam and Kerri were our absolute favorites. It moved along quickly, never dragging, leaving us anxious for the next scene to be played out. We were in the Stalls, Section O in rows 2 and 3, so the sound was perfect and our line of vision enabled us to see every expression and the passion that went into all the numbers by the stellar cast.

    Josh’s Anthem was exciting and he certainly deserved the standing O both nights. I don’t understand the comments about him being "stiff" or not able to act, because from my point of view he played the conservative Russian perfectly. Have some of us forgotten 1980’s Russia and what our perceptions were? His Anatoly was equal to Adam’s cocky American counterpart, Freddy – which by the way was wonderful, also. Of course, for those of us who have seen Josh’s concerts and interviews we’ve come to know his more relaxed side, so his interpretation for us exact.

    I guess the real test was having our 14 and 15 year-old granddaughters along and wondering what their reaction would be. Not to worry – their eyes were riveted to the stage the entire performance and when I could tear my eyes away from the stage during Anthem, the looks on their faces told me they totally got it – and they were among the first on their feet even before the last note of the song died out.

    That alone made the play a winner in our eyes. My only regret is that we didn’t make the effort to be there both nights.

    My personal favorites, Merano – the Choir brought tears to my eyes, Anthem – more tears, Pity the Child – did you hear the pain in Adam’s voice? A LOT of tears that night, now that I think back, I Know Him So Well and Endgame – Josh’s "never" that went on forever, and his posture conveyed his anquish. I can’t imagine it being done any better by anyone.

    Thanks you Bjorn, Benny and Tim for bringing this back to us. Here at home, we’ll be waiting patiently for the DVD to be released and believe me we’ll watch it over and over. And if it should ever appear in the theater again – we’ll be there with bells on.

  36. We were in the circle and whilst the music was good, the performance overall was appallingly bad. It was impossible to understand ANY of the singing – the stage should have been fitted with surtitles so we could read and understand!

  37. Sorry it`s not the right place I know!

    In Staatsoperette Dresden had "CHESS" premiere on 27/06/08 and it was a great performence with very good singers and dancers. Perfect!
    Greetings INES, Dresden

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