Great Performances: Chess in Concert
TIM RICE (Conceiver and Lyricist, Chess) was born in 1944. From 1956 to 1965 he wanted to be Elvis. Then he met Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose musical ambitions were in theater rather than rock. They joined forces as one could knock out a decent tune, the other had a way with words. They wrote four shows together, three of which, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968), Jesus Christ Superstar (1969-71) and Evita (1976-78), became, and indeed remain, hugely successful all around the world, on both stage and screen.
Feeling certain that they could never top this lot, the pair went their separate ways in the early ’80s, whereupon ALW immediately topped that lot with Cats. TR then wrote Blondel (1983), a medieval romp, which ran for a year in London, but not for long anywhere else.
In 1986 came Chess, written with ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. Chess had a healthy UK run but flopped on Broadway in 1988, The New York Times bloke simply not getting it. In the ’90s he worked primarily with the Disney empire, contributing lyrics to the movies Aladdin (music Alan Menken) and The Lion King (music Elton John and Hans Zimmer) and to the stage shows Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken), The Lion King and Aida (both Sir Elton).
He is currently working on new treatments, for both stage and screen, of Chess, The New York Times bloke having been replaced. He lives in England, has three children, his own cricket team, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a knighthood (that’s Sir Tim to you).
IDINA MENZEL (Florence Vassy, Chess in Concert) won a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for her work as Elphaba in Wicked, and also opened the London production of the hit show. She created the role of Maureen in the original Broadway company of Rent, and is known to New York theater aficionados for her work in the City Center Encores! Production of Hair, the Manhattan Theatre Club’s The Wild Party, the Public Theater’s See What I Wanna See, and the benefit Funny Girl concert.
Her film credits include Ask the Dust, Rent and Enchanted. She won rave reviews for her recent performance as Florence Vassy in the Chess in Concert production at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which was recorded by Great Performances and premieres on the series this summer on PBS HD. Her most recent solo album, I Stand, was released by Warner Bros last year.
DAVID HORN (TV Director, Chess in Concert) is Executive Producer for Great Performances and responsible for the development and production of all local and national performance programming for THIRTEEN. Creator of the acclaimed In the Spotlight series of prime-time popular music specials and later Executive Producer of Sessions at West 54th, he joined the station in 1979 as a production assistant for THIRTEEN’s local arts series Skyline.
Two-time winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music programming, he is also recipient of the Primetime Emmy for Linda Ronstadt: Canciones de Mi Padre (1980), Unforgettable, With Love: Natalie Cole Sings the Songs of Nat King Cole (1982), La Traviata from Paris (2001), and the six-part Broadway: The American Musical (2005). He is currently Co-Executive Producer of THIRTEEN’s arts showcase SundayArts.
His many directorial credits for Great Performances include Hitman: David Foster & Friends, Andrea Bocelli Live in Tuscany and We Love Ella.