CHESS directed by Craig Revel Horwood: Tour dates, venues and ticket details (Updated)

Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood directs an amazing cast of actors and musicians in an extraordinary new staging of the classic musical CHESS.

Written by Tim Rice and ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, CHESS has one of the greatest musical theatre scores of all time including One Night In Bangkok, Pity The Child, Anthem, You And I and, of course, I Know Him So Well which became a number one hit for Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson.

CHESS UK Tour 2010
Make your move!

Set during the era of the ‘iron curtain’, Chess is a clever allegory of the Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. A romance develops between one player and the manager of the other – love uniting nations, or treachery on the world stage?

Craig Revel Horwood has previously won huge critical acclaim for his thrilling productions of Boublil and Schönberg’s Martin Guerre, Spend Spend Spend, Hot Mikado and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard which transferred to the West End. His regular collaborator, Musical Supervisor and Orchestrator Sarah Travis won the Tony Award for her work on the Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd.


  • Newcastle Theatre Royal
    Friday 27 August –  Saturday 11 September
  • Northampton, Royal & Derngate
    Tuesday 14 September – Saturday 18 September
  • Edinburgh Playhouse
    Tuesday 21 September – Saturday 25 September
  • Cheltenham, Everyman Theatre
    Tuesday 28 September – Saturday 2 October
  • Aberdeen His Majesty’s Theatre
    Tuesday 5 October – Saturday 9 October
  • Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
    Tuesday 12 October – Saturday 16 October
  • Sheffield Lyceum Theatre
    Tuesday 19 October – Saturday 23 October
  • Salford – The Lowry
    Tuesday 26 October – Saturday 30 October
  • Cardiff New Theatre
    Monday 1 November – Saturday 6 November
  • Bradford Alhambra
    Tuesday 9 November – Saturday 13 November
  • Southampton Mayflower Theatre
    Tuesday 16 November – Saturday 20 November
  • Nottingham Theatre Royal
    Monday 22 November to Saturday 27 November
  • Norwich Theatre Royal
    Tuesday 30 November to Saturday 4 December
  • Plymouth Theatre Royal
    Tuesday 6 December to Saturday 11 December


  • Milton Keynes Theatre
    Tuesday 25 January – Saturday 29 January
  • Truro – Hall for Cornwall
    Tuesday 1 February – Saturday 5 February
  • Birmingham Hippodrome
    Monday 7 February – Saturday 12 February
  • Southend Cliffs Pavilion
    Tuesday 15 February – Saturday 19 February
  • Belfast Grand Opera House
    Tuesday 22 February to Saturday 26 February
  • Bristol Hippodrome
    Tuesday 1 March – Saturday 5 March
  • Woking New Victoria Theatre
    Tuesday 08 March to Saturday 12 March
  • Torquay Princess Theatre
    Tuesday 15 March to Saturday 19 March
  • Dublin Grand Canal Theatre
    Tuesday 22 March to Saturday 26 March
  • Wycombe Swan Theatre
    Tuesday 29 March to Saturday 2 April
  • Glasgow King’s Theatre
    Tuesday 05 April to Saturday 09 April
  • Politeama Rossetti, Trieste, Italy
    Tuesday 12 April to Sunday 17 April

(Thanks to the readers that have let me know about the dates as they appeared.)

Related link:

Chess UK Tour


  • Wow Wow and Wow again!!!! I seen this in Edinburgh yesterday matinee in the third row stalls. This was my first time of seeing it so had no clues as to what to expect!! Fantastic costumes, Fabulous Singers/actors and musicians ALL rolled into one. Such concentration to sing and play an instrument and dance and the same time.The singing was out of this world. Big mentions for James Fox, Daniel Koek & Shona White..what voices!! Wish i was going back tonight again..if you haven’t booked it now!! IF you have you will definitely enjoy!!
    I REALLY HOPE they put this out on DVD with this cast. there’s a CD for sell in the theatres but it’s not of this cast 🙁

  • Great news! I got my tickets for Belfast on 26 Feb 11, can’t wait.

  • I’ve seen numerous versions of this show since it first opened in 1986. This was superb. A highlight for me was the reworking of Pity The Child by James Fox, with an acoustic guitar arrangement which he played himself. I’ve never found The American to be the male lead in this show, but he did it. Probably the best Freddie I’ve seen. Not to belittle Daniel Koek however, who was very strong. Shona White was terrific as Florence – nobody’s side moved me t tears for the first time ever. Well done to Craig Revel Horwood, and the cast, but most especially, congrats again to Benny, Bjorn and Tim, without whom there would be no show.

  • I’ve been reading all the reviews here with growing excitement as I am not going to see this production until November. However I did a quick search as not much has been said of Chess since it started touring other venues. Clearly the Scots’ critics didn’t like it. Here are a couple of links to reviews. Were the Newcastle critics won over by the fact it was a world premier? I’m looking forward to making up my own mind.

    Leamington Spa

  • But at the same time The Edinburgh Evening News LOVED it… I think the link is already on here, but her it is for anybody missed it.–

  • The cast are simply astounding. Shona White and Daniel Koek are breathtakingly good as the victims of ?forbidden love?, singing with effortless beauty and range throughout.

    That?s a bad review? The Joyce Millagin review isn’t a review its just a rant.

    I cant wait to see it again.

  • They have posted the EPK of Chess on You Tube

  • saw the show the other night in cheltenham..absolutely fantastic show. gripped from start to finish. saw the origional back in the 80’s & dont remember it being like this. fantastic modern version of great songs. shona white for me stole the show, what a star. i just hope there’s going to be a cd or dvd.


    Sorry I’m not necessarily posting this in the correct section. Not sure what that would be?

    Anyone know anything about this publication at £49.00 which is on Amazon. Looking up close at the artwork I can just make out Wikipedia mentioned.

    I know there’s recently been a copyright upheld that anything posted on there becomes copyrighted by Wikipedia and can be published.

    I know there’s also been quite a push recently on advertising books which are out of print being now available on a printed on demand type set up.

    Any info welcomed.

  • This musical was true hot stuff. Amazing.

  • Wow, from start to finish this show is brilliant.Such a high energy production with an amazing cast. I can’t wait to see it again.

  • truly wonderful

    i went with such worries – CHESS has been a huge part of my life ever since the concept album

    this production is certainly different – but what a joy


  • Hope Mike Galvin has been eating his harsh words about James Fox’s vocal ability. I saw the show last night in Wolverhampton and his voice was absolutely outstanding. Best rendition of ‘Pity the Child’ I have ever heard. He has a very good range, and his voice has great power and quality and is nothing like the style he uses on his own material. He was a complete revelation and perfectly cast in my opinion.

  • Having travelled to the Lowry in Salford not knowing what to expect – having been hooked (like Andrew) from the concept album all those years ago in Australia. Finally, seeing it at the Prince Edward theatre in London (a number of times), then the anniversary at the Albert Hall …

    This production is a brilliant update and I really hope CRH is going to be pulling together a cast album! AAAAAAmazing! The entire cast! Agree with Jen, “Pity the Child” was exceptional. I did miss Merano (song), but that aside staging, lighting, costumes, cast – all winners and this really MUST come to the West End! The orchestra concept is very clever. David Erik as the Arbiter was better than the original concept album. Daniel Koek and Poppy Tierney brilliant Russian accents (on top of everything else!) – James and Shona … excellent … James and Steve … should be global! The friends I saw the show with last night were beside themselves (I’m being really polite) with the black and white kings and knights … the black and white Queens were fab … the black king did a great job retrieving a wig that came off.

    The whole cast is exceptional and I really hope it’s this cast that comes to London’s West End ….. please, please, please!! (and then sweep Wicked away from being the most popular musical in London in 2011!).

    @Gill – yes agree – it was a pity that there wasn’t a CD available at the show (hopefully one coming out! – of this cast) and a DVD of this production would be great for Christmas!

    They had the Albert Hall anniversary CD on sale – which is great (already have it) – but not what I wanted after seeing this show! Actually – it was annoying because they closed the merchandising “stall” after the interval – maybe it’s something about being in the regions … never experienced this before in any theatre (most theatres open until the bitter end merchandising to get every last cent/penny).

  • @ Jen,my favourite was ‘Pity the child’ too,followed by ‘you and i’.It’s uncanny how Shona sometimes sounds like Elaine Paige.(Saw it at the Lowry Friday)

  • I went to see Chess on saturday in cardiff and i must say the cast were incredible.
    James fox as the american was brilliant and yes Pity the child was the best version i had ever heard.
    Going to see it again soon in southampton and i cant wait.

  • It is quite simply stunning piece of theatre – I have seen it in Wolverhampton, have tickets for Nottingham AND Birmingham and have even bought tickets for my inlaws for Christmas when it goes to Belfast in February 2011.

    Every person on the stage played their part in making it so memorable – the four leads were fantastic. I saw Daniel Koek when he was the lead in West Side Story, thought he was marvellous then, but how he has matured as a performer since then. Supported well by James Fox, it is Daniels voice that is simply hypnotising and I sat in the Centre Stalls and really believed I was watching theatre magic when he sang Anthem.

    Who cares if the story is not the strongest – the four leads would make anything believable and I was devestated when at the end when Anatoly went off back to Russia with his wife!!!!

    Looking forward to eventually seeing this production where it belongs……… the West End.

  • This is a hard-edged, glittering version of Chess that batters the audience into submission with its relentless barrage of sound and action. Unfortunately it lacks heart. The songs that should have been highlights were perfectly good but not memorable. In my view it didn’t match the Hitchin Players’ superlative version a few years ago.

  • well!!! The singing was superb, and the score as ever was stunning James Foxx was particulary impressive. Daniel Koek less so with a particularly uninspiring version of Anthem.

    Overall though i was very disappointed with the staging. It seemed distracting and the cast playing their instruments seemed to detract from the main staging. The minimalist set really did not work and it seemed from a styling point of view and from an audience point of view to be a bit of a mess in terms of choreography especially. It should have been a classy production for a stunning score but ended up a bit naff!

    I hope it is not the nail in the coffin for Chess as I absolutely adore the music from the show. I saw it at Cardiff and the theatre and stage is not the best. i will give it another go when it comes to the Hippodrome in Bristol which is a much better theatre and stage. Hopefully I will be more impressed going in with lower expectations.

  • For People not afraid to think. I just listened to a very interesting discussion on the game of chess,
    On Radio Three’s Night waves which as the presenter of the show said used Tim Rice’s Metaphors for chess, the cold war and relationships as the base for the discussion between a chess player whose life story sounded Rother like Freddy Trumper, and a poker player. It was very interesting the Story of the Musical isn’t as far fetched as some people fact pretty spot on.

  • Just seen the show at Milton Keynes Theatre tonight. Overall, very impressed. I thought the First half of the show was definately the best. Second half went a bit stale I feel. I saw the original back in May 1986 (second night after it opened), It was nice to see a new refreshing and different version rather a rehash of the original. Nice to see two versions of ‘Anthem’ were featured (my favourite song from the show). Excellent. Well worth seeing.

  • Just to say- I saw Chess at Milton Keynes on Tuesday…..great!

  • Birmingham Hippodrome 7th February

    Wow! Quite simply the best pice of theatre I have ever seen!

    I was originally a bit sceptical about the musicians on stage as the cast, ‘what about all the drums and keyboards etc?’ I thought. These are thankfully still there, although not seen.

    The songs are a lot clearer than any production Ive seen, although it is a good job I know all the word off by heart, as some numbers were a little difficult to follow, ‘commie newspapers’ being one. I think that this is something that will always plague Chess though.

    James Fox is I think the most perfect Freddy, even more so than Adam Pascal, who I though was excellent. In theory having Anotoly and Svetlana singing in a Russian accent was a good idea, however in practice, I’m not sure.

    Shona White is the best Florence Ive seen, on a level with Helen Sjoholm, yet a very different character. Seeing her break down at the end during ‘You and I’ was truly amazing, I cried!

    Daniel Koek was great, especially where he was topless and showing off a very nice nipple stud ;o)

    I thought the audience hated it, no applause until after the Arbiter’s song, and some very awkward silences where I would expect huge applause. However at the end of the show, the audience went wild! There were 2 people in my row though who didn’t some back after the interval, they dont know what they missed!

    One nice touch was during ‘The merchandisers’ “Its a rich mans world!” the audience liked that.

    A truly spectacular performance. Highly recommended!


  • I too saw Chess at Birmingham, Loved it! Just thought the music a little too loud and drowned out the words in some songs. Why has Merano been cut?

  • Saw Chess last night mixed thoughts it is very good in parts its a bit too rauchy and camp IMO, Shona White and Daniel Koek stand out amazing .. James Fox sings Pity the Child brilliantly but is hard to understand when acting he seems to mutter and is slow moving around, saying that i did enyoy it and will more than likely catch the show again !!

  • I just bought the ticket for the final show in Trieste, on the 16th April. Second row!!! I just can’t help being extremely excited!!!

  • Saw Chess at Southend Cliffs Pavillion. Absolutely loved it. Shona White has such a great voice (loved her version of anthem at the end – sent shivers down my spine) and James Fox was great singing Pity the Child. Thought the Abba touch to The Merchandisers was great – everyone laughed. So glad I managed to see it and hope they release a cast recording now.
    If you haven’t seen it yet then I recommend you do.

  • Saw the last peformance at Southend last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. My partner has been a fan of the show since 1986 and was equally impressed. Love the idea of the performers doing the music – saw the same thing in CRH production of Sunset Boulevard. They did it brilliantly – a highly talented cast and great performances by the lead actors.

  • Saw Belfast saturday night – really enjoyed it, but it got a mixed reception – clearly the mainly older audience did not all ‘get it’ or follow it or apprecite the frankly overraunchiness of it all.

    Highlights –
    Pity the child – singing, guitar and the ‘rain’
    Nobody’s side

    Lowlights –
    Merchandisers – remains hard to make out, adds nothing to story
    Svetlana’s over-Russian accent
    Overraunchy opening piece
    chessboard effectgs lost on stalls who could not see (circle next time!)
    confusing ending? Is he really returning to Russia with Svet (she was warned if he ‘won’ she and his kids would suffer)? I suppose so long as he went back that was cool with the Russians?

    Overall love the music anyway so will always like it, energy was great, some tidying up; of story required still

  • OMG! I saw Chess in Belfast with my Mammy and some more of the family,
    My auntie Mary walked out after fifteen minutes and she wasn’t the only one,
    and little wonder with it promoting promiscuity, fornication, wife beating and drug taking. its a disgrace
    Some of the singing was good I really enjoyed Anthem and the bald fellar singing with his guitar, but he was swamped on all the other numbers by the orchestra, who seem to be trying to drown the vocals out so its little wonder that the lead female resorts to shouting! The dancing isn’t up to much and none of the leads can act for toffees.
    it wasn’t my idea of a good night out.

  • I agree with your post Marie.. i took my elderly parents to the Bristol matinee today a anniversary treat, they were disgusted and wanted to walk out i made them stay as the tickets cost me nearly £100 and hoped it would get better but after the Bancock pornshow i have to say i was horrified too far too rauchy , it really isnt in anyway a family show plus its way too long the music is very loud and im afraid i didnt get it all all i found myself drifting and losing concentration and started to look around most of the oaps in the audiance were asleep !! and many did walkout, it wasnt all bad some good voices the lady who plays Florence has a good voice if a bit shouty and the guy who played Freddie the american his version of Pity the Child was amazing, other than that very very disappointing.

  • I was disappointed at the staging, we were in the fifth row right side and spent most of the time looking at the musicians backsides. Couldn’t see the lead males sat playing chess and sometimes couldn’t see leads at all for all the chorus writhing around! This was Bristol, a brilliant theatre, and the top price seats! In fairness the singing was superb (though sometimes the music was so loud it drowned out the voices) and I was impressed by the cast, but think CRH perhaps went OTT with the dancing as it wasn’t really ‘family’ viewing. Saw original in 80’s and loved it, but felt some of the changes were detrimental to the plot line.

  • I really enjoyed this show on Saturday night in Bristol and I have read some of these comments with great amusement. Is there an unwritten rule that musicals HAVE to be family viewing?!! Perhaps there should be some sort of age guidance system in place but that shouldn’t stop directors delivering the material in the way they choose. Have you been to Bankok? Nothing in this show was any worse than the reality and I’m sure that if it was shown on television, no one would bat an eyelid! This was out and out the best touring production I have seen and the audience response was testament to that. Seems a shame that the minority who didn’t enjoy seem to be the only ones that feel the need to write about it.

  • I personally cannot see where the problems are.

    It may not be suitable for the very young, but then again who would want to take children to see Chess anyway? I’m 31 and I find the plot confusing in places, I’d imagine youngsters would be bored out of their mind, unless like me they have such passion for the music.

    Older generations may have difficulties in some of the onstage action, but that’s just a generation thing.

    Unfortunately, I think there is a lot of feeling that Chess = Abba = Mamma mia.

    I stand by my post further up, that this is the best piece of theatre I have ever seen. This is not a family singing and dancing night out like most of ‘karaoke’ musicals out there.

    I’m sad to say that I personally think that Mamma Mia has been Chess’s downfall.

    I really hope that this production moves to the West End, it would fit well in the Soho area! A DVD would be nice too, but maybe I’m wishing too much!


  • I saw Chess at the Bristol Hippodrome last week.
    I was not bothered by, did not mind the adult nature of the show however I fail to see what it adds it seems to be a desperate attempt to hide the paper thin plot and terrible acting by the two male leads, who can both sing but the sound mix is horrible much of the singing is drown out and there are so many on stage its hard to have any idea where to too look, I found the often disembodied voices singing from stage left most disconcerting…
    Not for me sorry.
    “The testament of the audience response” does that include the walkouts and sleepers?


  • Have to say i agree with the comparisons between Mamma Mia and Chess..Mamma Mia is a happy go lucky singalong easy to follow show.. Chess has some great songs but so complicated to follow i came away very confused if anybody asked me what the plot was about i couldnt answer, i personally dont think there was any need for the overly sexual scenes plus there should be a warning of the content because alot of older people near me were not amused and quite a few didnt come back after the interval, the songs are wonderful but its about acting aswell as music and the lead actors did nothing for me, i would give it another try with maybe more well known westend stars.

  • I agree with Gareth, but from the other side of the coin. From the writers of Mamma Mia and directed by Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Harwood, is how Chess is being sold (and the only ‘star’ I had heard of is after all famous for doing Eurovison song contest).
    So I like many others (it seems) expected a a fun entertaining night out, and yes I expected to be able to sing along with I know Him so well and some of the other tunes what I got was part sex show, part Am dram dance production and part rugby scrum.
    I have no idea what was going on and was bored silly for long periods of time. There was no opportunity for the audience to engage and nothing to engage with.
    On the plus side Shona White has an amazing voice and acted her socks off and James Fox came good fleetingly doing what he does singing with his guitar. For me Chess equals a fail!

  • Went to see Chess at Bristol, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, though to be honest I wasn’t totally sure what this musical was about but was dragged there by my enthusiastic wife who loved the song I know him so well as sung by Barbara Dickson and Elaine Paige.

    From the start I found the plot (was there a plot) very confusing and under whelming. The main characters shallow, the acting ability of the main leads (James Fox and Daniel Koek,my wife informs me) were probably the weakest leads I have ever seen. Their ability to convey even the most basic emotion is totally lacking in believability and although there were one or two moments of almost averageness on the whole unless they do have a drastic rethink with their casting I can’t see this making much of an impact with the west end audience.

    PS Wife didn’t enjoy it either I had to talk her into sticking it out to the end

  • Well …. What a difference a stage makes!!! (see my review 27/11)

    I saw Chess on 1 March at the Bristol Hippodrome. far superior to the cardiff theatre. The Hippodrome is a great Theatre and a larger stage. I was totally in awe of the whole production… the concept behind the whole new production was now apparent and it looked and sounded absolutely brilliant. The singing was as before absolutely fantastic but with the size of stage for so much going on (there is a lot) it worked perfectly. Chess is saved but CRH should take care in the choosing of venues for such an ambitious production. Thank god i chose to see it a second time.

  • Have seen Chess the musical twice- once in Bristol and loved it that much we booked it again to see 2 weeks later in Torquay and at the moment looking to see if it is possible to see again. Both times we were sat in the front row and it is unbelievable! Having grown up with the music an never seen it staged I thought this was an absoloutely fantastic production that I think would do brilliantly in the West End. There is something different to see each time, hence why I want to book to see it again. You can get so distarcted by watching certain characters that you miss other bits.

    I can not praise the singing, dancing, musicans the whole thing enough, its fantastic. I play the Violin but I cannot imagine playing the violin confidently whilst singing and moving around the stage- even at one point lying down on the stage and playing whilst kicking legs in the air. Every single one of those actors/actresses are truly truly talented and I really hope they get to go to the West End.

    It is a must see- do not let the bad reviews on here spoil it!

  • Grand Canal Dublin, Friday 25th March 2010

    Wow Wow Wow! Totally lost for words after seeing this spectacular show, most definately the best piece of theatre I have ever seen!

    I am even more lost for words after reading the negative comments above….open your minds people!

    Yes the plot of Chess can be confusing…but I think that this production protrayed it very well….I loved the underlying polictical plot that bubbled to the surface at times!

    James Fox as Freddy singing Pity the Child had to be one of the highlights of the whole show! Really thought that the Bangkok scene was excellent and was very tame to what it could have been!

    I thought Anotoly and Svetlana singing in a Russian accent was a great touch but not sure if it really worked as the show progressed.

    I loved how the scene changes ran really smoothly and fluidly!

    Every member of the Company are extreemly talanted to be able to play/sing/dance and act………

    Get ur tickets to see this truely wonderful show


  • Dear All,

    I am currently a student at Middlesex University and for my final research project am looking into the impact that actor-musicians have upon a production. As an example of this I am focusing on the current UK tour of Chess.

    If you have seen this production and would like to take part in this research please click on the link below.

    The survey consists of 15 questions and begins with an Informed Consent Form for all participants, covering the subject of anonymity and confidentiality.

    I will be posting a similar topic on other Discussion Boards to try and attract as many participants as possible so please forgive me if you come across the same survey elsewhere.

    Thank you in advance to those of you who choose to take part.

  • I cannot believe some of the above comments on the complexity of the plot, the content etc! Plot – Woman leaves boyfriend to go with his opponent who leaves his wife, has affair, then he returns to wife. Not too difficult to follow. Singalong? What the devil did people expect? You need to go to to The Sound of Music singalong for rubbish like that or your local pub. This is a musical with quality musicians, singers and dancers – if it were not so would it have played for so many months, with a week in Italy and the possibility of 4 weeks touring in Canada? Sexual content! Turn on your telly ANY night and you will see more explicit sex scenes, even before the so-called watershed. Some people will complain about anything. Absolutely brilliant show. Well done to all concerned.

  • And I cannot believe your comments Hugh Saunders, people are entitled to their reviews
    if people went expecting Chess to be a fun night out like Mamma Mia and were then disappointed they couldn’t sing along and join in its hardly surprising they found somewhere to voice their opinions.
    Chess was marketed as being by the people who brought you mamma mia with SCD Craig Revel Harwood directing . Mr Harwoods SCD fans weren’t going to expect anything other than a fun night out.
    Plus its been so long since Chess was out there, most people only knew ” I know him so well” and then from karaoke Nights or Gavin and Stacy as Pams favourite song.
    The production was kept going as are most touring productions by group bookings of heavily discounted and subsidised ‘senior citizens clubs’ outings. a lot of whom either fell asleep or rattled sweets, slurped drinks and chatted the way throughout

    I went twice and enjoyed parts of it and hated others. I felt nothing for any of the leads the two males both left me cold both can sing, boy can the sing but either could act.
    the choreography was messy and the stage a mass of confusion of bodies fr the most part.
    the show was staged in such a way that you had to be one of a few selective seats to see everything , or maybe it was a money spinner to get people to go several times to see all the show?
    If this production goes to the West end with any of the UK tours leads it will kill Chess for another 20 years……….and I would hate to see that because i am a massive fan of the score but not this camp over blown production…

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