Official CHESS UK Tour video


  • Thanks for these impressions. I wonder who provided the musical arrangement because its sound quite differs from the original version, which is not bad. Was it Anders Eljas? I wonder because usually B&B are rigidly protective as far as their material is concerned – with Abba, so with the musicals, too? From that what could be heard in the clip I feel that it doesn’t sound that strong or convincing, but I might be wrong…

  • A bit disappointed in this. Sounds rather raucous and I thought the guy singing Anthem absolutely murdered it. Maybe I’m just getting old, but give me Elaine, Barbara & Tommy anytime!

  • "Nobody’s Side" goes gospel – quite odd. I’m still trying to get my head around the idea of B&B related work not having one or other of them closely involved. It’s a little like listening to cover versions – they never seem quite as good as the original. I like the concept of having the musicians on stage – it seems quite fitting. "Chess" on the stage (the original London version)always seemed to me to be more of a performance of a concept album than a "proper" musical.

  • It looks and sounds fantastic ,

    so good to see it ,an incredible show.

  • Hmmm… NOw i’m really going to have to get myself a ticket. This does look good after all, and Chess IS my favourite B&B work. My only gripe is with a 5 x 5 stage…what kind of Chess is that??

  • If this is what I’ve bought my ticket for FANTASTIC!! I LOVE what has been done with it.
    Can’t wait ’til December, in Plymouth.

  • Just. Don’t. Fancy. It!

  • I’m with Alexander (nice name!) above.

    The orchestrations just don’t sound right.

    For example, on all stagings of Chess a lovely brass addition of a melody line is added between "let man’s petty nations tear themselves apart" and "my land’s only borders…". It’s missing here.

    I wish that there was a proper traditional orchestra pit to give the large accompanyment that this score deserves.

    The smaller orchestra here diminishes the piece so dramatically. To hear what I mean, listen to the studio version of Anthem and compare it with the (Mono Music) Concert version CD – which is the way it really sounded on stage. They are both lush and beautiful, but the concert version is richer and more powerful, especially toward the end.

    I’m afraid that there’s nobody that understands Benny and Bjorn’s compositions more that Anders Eljas, and this became obvious to me too when Paul Gemignani was conducting the recent Kristina concerts.

    To take anything away from the rich MUSIC of Chess does nothing except to expose the weak book even further. But maybe having those instruments being played on stage will distract the audience somewhat from, what really is, the most awful story set to the most wonderful of melodies.

    CHESS to me is like sticking a beautiful cathedral in amongst a load of run down council high rised buildings. The score and the story just don’t equal each other. So why anyone would want to take anything AWAY from the orchestrations, as they seem to have here, is beyond my comprehension.

    I’m still looking forward to seeing it, though. I like cathedrals!

  • I would suggest to get anything like the look of the show in the clip you go for a circle seat where you are above the stage line and can look over the whole stage and the cast. Having just seen it from the stalls in theatre without a stage or stalls rake so you are just level with the stage the lighting floor was invisible and the cast look crowded and blocked most of the up stage performances.
    The clip is a very polished version but does give warning of the style of the show – there are times where it works very well but many times when it takes focus away from the score and more importantly the story. As the clip does show with so many on stage many times you will be watching the side players rather than the leads. I will be seeing it again in Bristol which has a stage twice the size and have a circle seat so will be interesting to see how the show looks then – sadly at the moment I have more memories of watching 30 people trying to move round and not bump into each other and all looking down to check to check key changes.!
    p.s current run time is 2hours 40 mins including 20 min interval. merchandise includes programe, brochure,t shirt, mug and key ring.

  • Alex jones

    A smaller scale orchestration can sound good as well,

    This production adds a bit of the spirit of the Benny Anderson band to Chess.
    For the west end it would be good to fortify the orchestration, but this touring version is trying something different, and it succeed triumphantly,
    The actor musicians are amazing,
    As for the story I love it . As well as always liking abba ,I have always liked Tim Rice musicals and I think this is his best, for the west end they should put back the small bits of dialog cut from Chess in concert.

    AND Johnb
    As for it sounding like a cover version ,

    REALY !!!!!!! This is a live stage musical not karaoke to the original studio album.

  • The music is actually a very good live concert version of the Chess sound, they recreate and add variations to it very well. All the trade marks sounds of Chess are there and I think B&B will be happy with sound of the production at least.
    A lot of the music base is supplied the keyboard and drums played off stage (which makes a bit of a mockery of the lets show the musicians on stage idea but never mind this show is nothing if not psychotic).
    I think I can assure both Alex and Alexander they will find many other things wrong with this production which are far greater liberty than the music and yes plenty of great and innovative ideas as well, this really is a production which some of us will cheer at its style one moment and be despairing at others!

  • The lush orchestrations and sounds of the concept album AND the London show cannot be replicated within this production. If they were then the musical would not be touring because it would be prohibitively expensive.

    CHESS is not a sure-fire theatrical winner and in fact is limited to (apart from Newcastle) playing just 9 shows in each venue because interest in the show is not high enough to sustain a longer stay in each venue.

    Les Miz and others can sustain 20 shows in each venue and almost guarantee a sell out every night. Not Chess.

    The last Chess tour collapsed due to poor ticket sales.

    The current incarnation makes up for a lack of lushness with its innovative and imaginative arrangements for an ensemble that have to appear on stage and play other parts to make the show viable.

    The stunning new interpretations of ‘Talking Chess’ and ‘Embassy Lament’ are a world away from the original show and it’s all the more refreshing not to see another attempt at trying to recreate a time and place (and sound) that most audiences have forgotten. If, indeed, they were even around then.

    This is a show that can be staged in 2010 despite CHESS’ unfortunate and convoluted history and we should be grateful, at the very least for that.

    It isn’t perfect, I’m not saying it is…Svetlana singing ‘Someone Else’s Story’ makes a mockery of that fantastic song’s lyrics, the Soviet Machine (which gives the principal performers a break before the mammoth effort that Endgame requires) is pedestrian and not nearly as amusing as it could be. And You and I is glossed over too fast for my liking.

    I’ve seen it twice and plan to see it again – but I’m not some deluded Chess fanatic stuck in the 1980s or early 1990s that thinks that you just chuck bucketloads of money at it in order to recreate the sound of the concept album and the staging of the West End and that alone will guarantee its success.

    So take off your stone-washed jeans, straighten that perm and come to terms with life as it is now for this difficult child of musicals in 2010.

    You can still embrace it. There’s a lot to love. And thank goodness it’s still around.

    Bravo Mr Revel Horwood!


  • The clip shows the style of the show quite well except sometimes it’s almost gothic to look at which works very well. The clip doesn’t however do the singing justice. I agree The Arbitor doesn’t sound good here but believe me he is. The clip of Nobodys Side is not the main song sung by Florence. The Arbitor kind of reprises it later with others in the cast. Florence doing it on her own is true to the original and very very good. I can’t recommend this show enough. It’s brilliant and so much better than the recent concert version. Svetlannas accent is a bit distracting though. If you haven’t seen it yet watch out for the funny little snippet of Money Money Money. Enjoy

  • Seen this show at 2 venues now – agree better viewed away from the front stalls.
    Orchestrations I thought were great – some really nice touches with accordians in Russian themed pieces and potentially lusher in places.

  • Fantastic – does this mean a dvd release? Would be great if they produced one, just like the ‘Jesus christ superstar’ dvd, which I think would suit chess really well. Sounds great and looks great!

  • While it’s different from the original, it looks very good regardless, and I wish we had the chance to see it in Australia. Cheers :o)

  • @martin – The video has been made purely for tour promotion purposes.

  • After reading Alex Jones’ comment above, I was a bit concerned for the quality of the arrangements, being a concept album purist myself. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected, even though I do wish that brass line in Anthem were more prominent and I totally agree with the observation about Anders Eljas.

    That said, what I had heard about the costumes and sexual overtones has had me concerned from the start, and now that I’ve seen it, I’m not impressed.

    I’m not saying that the costumes are inappropriate or anything…but in all seriousness, what does Chess have to gain from this? Obviously, it makes sense for "One Night in Bangkok", but why does the Arbiter need to be dressed like a character from a cheesy 80s porno? Is the story so bland that Chess needs this raunchiness in order to be truly "entertaining"?

    I mean, look at the Swedish production. Overall, it was gorgeous, immersive, and fascinating — and it didn’t need to be shocking in order to get its point across.

    I don’t know. Am I missing something here? Your thoughts?

  • Great visuals, the music doesn’t work as well as I had hoped. The guy with the beard is kind of cool.

  • Bravo to you Malcolm. So much has been said about this musical never having found it’s proper place yet, well here’s someone making what appears to be a bloody good attempt at it.

    Maybe this is it. Maybe there are a few more corners to get around yet, but for sure, the only way this great set of songs is ever going to end up where it should, is by chances and different approaches being taken. Didn’t someone once say somethig like…’discovering a new song is a bit like waiting outside the cave for the dragon to appear. The minute you go away, he’ll come out and you miss him’. At some point, that dragon is going to appear. Let’s hope someone is there to capture it.

    Keep going Mr.Revel Horwood.

    Can’t wait to see it for myself in December.

  • Interesting comments from both who like the show and who are disappointed. After seeing the clip I think I belong to the disappointed group. It’s all about the music for me and I don’t like when my favourite music is being arbitrarily altered.

    It’s not just the budget and lushness of the sound. I have seen an amateur production of Chess in Sydney with probably one tenth of the budget of the current tour. Yet, the performers tried to reproduce the music exactly as it was written and it was very enjoyable.

    Still you have to applaud Mr Horwood for taking an effort to bring Chess to the audience again.

    To Russel – the phrase about the dragon belongs to Benny…


  • Hi!

    I’m from Germany but think about traveling to the UK and buying tickets for the show because despite some disapointed reviewers this seems to be a promising production of Chess. After all, it’s the first professional stage production of the Musical since years!!

    Concerning the arrangements, I think there should be some room for interpretation in the modern music theater. One cannot refer to versions other than the original cast recording as "cover versions".

    As we have the original cast recording, the broadway cast recording and the swedish cast recording, all produced and therefore authorised by Benny and Björn, we already have three official versions with slightly different arrangements.

    So please let there be room for interpretation also concerning the staging itself. Chess is not a trademark show like "Phantom", "Cats" or "Les Miz", which is, I think, great in a way, because there are surprises in each different staging of the show!

    I like to get surprised when watching this production sometime in the next months…


  • I’m flying across the Atlantic to see this show in Nottingham. I’m very pleased to read all your impressions above and can’t wait to see for myself. I just came tonight from the production of Chess in Arlington, Virginia. It’s a much smaller production and a drastically altered storyljne, yet thoroughly enjoyable. The music trumps all. See you in November.

  • To Vladimir……

    I know.


  • If you are dedicated to only wanting to see a copy of the original structure and sound then for your own health stay away from this production!
    I’m not a fan of this version but personally felt the sound was one of the shows plus points, it’s a faithful recreation, at times surprising rich but with plenty of new variations and overall complementing the Chess original.
    Few live musical shows now reproduce a sound comparable to the recorded CD. (The new Live Les Miserable CD shows the difference very well, it sounds Ok and works well in the live show but is not a patch on the studio recorded cd’s.).
    Despite my reservations I would recommend people to see this show (but if the video clip has left you doubting then leave it until the next production comes along because its gets far more weird in structure and style). The leads didn?t shine on the night I saw but the ensemble cast are superb and dedicated. A lot of the staging is innovative just as an equal amount of it is over the top and distracts. I just wish a stronger producer had reined in the director and reminded him that story and music come first over his desire to show how visual and clever he can be or his lamentable efforts to shock. The story of Chess is both complex in characters personalities and yet slight in its structure and when its given this productions unreal and almost cartoon approach to it rather than the more sober previous versions it makes the characters unbelievable and the story falls apart and that killed it for me as an actual theatrical musical. Just as the game is greater than its players a musical should be a greater experience than just its songs.
    With the large cast this cannot be a cheap musical to have on the road and I presume they will try a West end season or include more dates so I would expect it to be about until late 2011.
    The best news is that Chess is open for interpretation and that new freedom has to ensure we will see different versions of Chess opening in the coming years and that after this version tour finishes we wont be waiting twenty years for the next one

  • saw the show the other night, FANTASTIC!!!
    It is very differnent from how i remember the version i saw back in the 80’s with elaine paige.
    i can s both, what people are saying, sometimes the stage seemed a bit crowded, though the musicians were there to resmble the chess peices & it was very clever & origional. Musically I was impressed by most of the cast, but until seeing chess never heard of shona white – she was amazing & I will be looking out for more of her shows/music.
    I hope producers will do a cd with the cast.

  • After seeing it at the weekend, it should be re-named – not "Chess the musical", but another 5 letter word beginning with s and ending in e – without doubt the worst show I’ve had the misfortune to see.

  • I cannot believe some of the comments I have read about this show. I cannot wait to see it in Cardiff. How spoilt are we outside London that we cannot appreciate the fact that someone has the guts to take any show to the masses away from the "home" of shows. Shame on you and well done to the cast (all of them).

  • I´m amazed! It looks and sounds gorgeous! I wish I´d have the money to fly over and see it, I really love the music!

  • Saw it last night in Bradford – head still buzzing. I was completely blown away!

    Please say that you will put a video of it out as you’ve obviously filmed most of it!

  • Torquay date in March 2011 just added. The tour schedule now seems to be full.

  • I’ve seen over a dozen productions of CHESS, and this looks just astounding. Wish I could see it! Oh please, someone tell me that they are planning to put the whole show on video. (And wow, I’ve seen some fairly hot actors playing Freddie, but James Fox has to be the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen in anything CHESS-related…)

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