‘Chess på Svenska’ premieres in Helsinki to critical acclaim

This weekend, Helsinki’s Svenska Teatern (the Swedish National Theatre) unveiled a new production of the Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice musical Chess på Svenska.

Scenes from Svenska Teatern’s premiere of Chess på Svenska

Adapted for the Finnish stage by Lars Rudolfsson and directed by Maria Sid, the show closely follows the original Swedish format. A couple of notable differences being the inclusion of another song, Sanninges minut (The Moment Of Truth), created through the addition of lyrics, written by Björn, to a section of End Game and a comical send-up of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in place of the circus style acts just before The Deal. It also incorporates the Press Conference scene first introduced in Gothenburg.

The cast, led by Maria Yilpää as Florence, Glenn Edell in the role of the American Freddie Trumper, Johanna Ström as Svetlana and Alexander Lycke as the Russian Anatolij Serievskij, together with Kristofer Möller as Molokov and Silva Lillrank playing the first ever female Arbiter, all give outstanding performances.

In comparison with the English National Opera’s recent lavish production of CHESS, the staging at Svenska Teatern is quite minimalistic. The plot is easily followed though in this pared down production which allows the magnificent score to shine.

Benny Andersson at Svenska Teatern, Helsinki
Benny Andersson at Svenska Teatern, Helsinki

Speaking to icethesite after the show, Benny said that he is delighted with how his music sounds.

“Anders Eljas has done a really great job with the orchestral arrangements, and the acoustics in Svenska Teatern are just wonderful,” he said. “It has been a pure joy to work with so many talented artists in a setting such as this. I don’t think I have ever heard Nobody’s Side sound as good!”

With the reviews so far being some of the best in the history of the musical and many critics awarding the production the coveted maximum five stars, the press are hailing Chess på Svenska a huge success.

Saturday’s premiere audience showed their appreciation with a standing ovation accompanied by plenty of foot stomping and whoops of delight as the cast took their curtain calls.

So, does Benny think the Svenska Teatern’s production may be getting close to the much talked about ‘definitive version’ of the musical?

“No! But as the song almost goes… each show of Chess means there’s one less variation left to be played!” he laughed.

Chess på Svenska runs in Helsinki until Spring 2019. Tickets are available now through the theatre’s official website svenskateatern.fi

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