UK CHESS Tour opens in Toronto, Canada on 28 September

CHESS on Tour website

The Toronto outing of Craig Revel Horwood’s actor-musician production of Benny, Björn and Tim Rice’s CHESS, which succesfully toured the UK in Winter 2010/2011 is due to open on 28 September (after four nights of previews). The musical by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice originally opened in London in 1986 and ran for nearly three years.

The latest incarnation is a raunchier look at the World Chess Championships than has been seen before and won Best Regional Production in the What’s On Stage awards for 2010. The words “West End transfer” are still being used in connection with this production, so who knows what lies in store beyond Toronto?

Shona White, as Florence and James Fox as Freddie are definitely reprising their roles. Daniel Koek, the original Anatoly in this production is however, now playing in South Pacific in London. Tam Mutu (Love Never  Dies), Rebecca Lock  (The Phantom of the Opera, Avenue Q), James  Graeme (The Phantom of the Opera), David Erik (Dirty Dancing, The Phantom of  the Opera) and Steve  Varnom (The Woman in White) are among the cast of 30 actors.

The show is being performed at Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1J2 – Tel: 416 872 1212

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  • I hear the Aldwich Theatre for a limited run after Tango Argentina in the new year.

  • Exciting news especially if it moves to the west end.

  • The Mirvish site was been updated a few days ago, maybe rather tellingly? All references to before opening in London and prior to its West End Transfer have been removed!

  • I’m really excited now about the idea of the Aldwich theatre, I wonder if a star name may take over one of the roles for the west end, I cant believe this production won’t make the west end.

  • The original production ran in London for more than two years, not “more than three”. It died after Elaine Paige left the role, sadly and closed early in 1989.

    Maybe it will return to the West End, but I am hoping for a new production again, not this one.

  • I stand duly corrected Alex. Thank you!

  • Oh, sorry Ice. I just assumed it was lifted from a press release and somebody had made one of those “bigger than Volvo” type mistakes. I didn’t think it was you! (blushing)

  • Interesting story on Plyabill that says the show was nominated for a Tony awared and yet the director Trevor Nunn has famously said with some disdain that “the show WASN’T even nominated for a Tony award” in the Benny and Bjorn musical documentary from Radio 2 in 2002.

  • Nope Alex, all my fault…I didn’t proofread well enough!!

  • I am a little bit puzzled why the other recent 6 week production Of Chess wasn’t mentioned in the Chess news section of icethesite? It received better reviews than the Craig Revel Harwood production and starred a cast made up entirely of West End and Broadway stars.

    Tim Rogers (Tony in West Side Story.& Jerry in The Full Monty.) was described as the definitive Freddie by critics and praise was heaped on the chemistry and interplay between he and Anatoly who was played by Tom Solomon (Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera).

    I saw both (The same video wall backdrop was used in both productions) and have to agree with the critics for me the Anthony Williams and Michael Morwood version was far superior in every department to Mr Revel Horwood’s.

    If Chess is to get another shot at the West End which I would love to see it would be a mistake to take the actor musician production with all its major blocking issues, ropey costumes and messy choreography when a better version exists.

  • That’s interesting to hear about the Aberystwyth Arts Centre production which looks really good as well.
    I like both the styling of the Craig revel Harwood touring production,
    With the actor musicians which are sensational lets face it Especially the Russian looking violinists. and I also really love the simpler styling ,more casual grittier dress and the full orchestration of Chess in concert and the Aberystwyth Arts Centre production. Which leaves the question ,Which would be better for the west end ? Maybe an amalgamation of both, though when push comes to shove I think Chess in concert has the better structure, regardless of style.

  • To be Honest Michael I tired very quickly of the novelty of the violinists playing whilst lying on their backs kicking their legs in time to the music. the musicians in Craig Revel Harwood’s production were only required to have a grade 8. which is the level of a school orchestra (and to a trained ear it showed, especially I am told in the violinists )
    That is a pay off of the actor musician style used in the touring production . along often lumpen dancing and weak acting all of which were present but were not to be found in the Anthony Williams and Michael Morwood ‘Proper performers’ version.
    The actor musician style is fine for a touring production when you do expect a much lower level of ‘art’ than in the West End,
    Chess is a difficult child that needs all the nurturing it can get, it needs everyone to be the best they can all rounders are always going to be wanting, I fear the CRH production would definitely kill Chess off for another 15 years…That can’t be allowed to happen

    I absolutely agree Chess the Concert is the way to go should there be another West End run out..

  • Hello

    Please can any one help me-
    I need some CHESS POSTERS
    and some Giant Chess Pieces for my Birthday do
    Any one help me
    thanks david

  • Apparently the Toronto production will have a few changes made to it and spiced up even more and an encore number has been rehearsed nfor the end.

  • Does anyone know if Bjorn and/or Benny are planning on attending the Premiere in Toronto on the 28th or/nor a Preview Performance?
    Thanks a lot!

  • I just read on a website called Toronto .com that Chess is moving to London after Toronto.
    I would love to see it in the west end.

  • Just read some reviews on the official website of Princess of Wales Theatre – they’re not very favourable to say the least, with an average rating of 1.6 out of 5 from 84 reviews. I haven’t seen this production myself but judging by this I really hope it won’t make it to the West End.


    you can votes for the musical, cast and production team online

  • Sad to say because I adore the score, but apparently Its done really badly In Toronto, heavily discounted tickets and freebies given out last minute to help establish for some sort of atmosphere,
    The professional reviews save for one have been unfavourable, it seems minus the TV celebrity status of the director the show is seen with different eyes by critics, there have also been many complains from paying customers, the same things that were complained about as on the UK and Italian dates. the sound, acting, the two original leads and staging.
    Tim Rice during an interview live last week said he hoped Chess would return to the West End one day, but didn’t know when or if it does which Version.
    I would love to see Chess back in the West End, but not the Craig Revel Horwood version.

  • I visited Toronto from New Zealand to see this production of Chess and was blown away by it. I think they did a fantastic job of reinvigorating the show. The sexy, stylish look works brilliantly. The cast are fantastic and despite the lack of grandeur one might hope for on an orchestral level, we can’t have Chess in Concert every time (which I did see both nights). Having the onstage performers play instruments is a delightful touch that amply compensates for the smaller scale of the orchestra.

    It made me cry on many occasions and I think Horwood should be applauded. I noticed a few people walking out at intermission, but these were clearly the more conservative, shockable types who I heard gasping at the racy content of the performance. This puritanical reaction is pathetic in grown adults, and the show does come with warnings. I don’t think those complaints can be taken seriously.

    Chess is not an easy show. It’s complicated and intellectual and most people will never be able to understand it at first watch. You can’t take the reviews seriously. It’s a striking and powerful production.

  • I think the reviews deserve be taken seriously,
    If you read customer reviews a lot of the complaints are not about the sexual content,but more to do with the blocking, diction, lack of clarity in the plotting, one dimensional characters and the mess the choreography often is. people walk out because they are disinterested, bored and simply do not feel entertained.
    they are as entitled to their option being valued as you are to yours.

    What is curious is that the reviews that are very favourable have all come not from Canadians but from other nationals.
    The same complaints being made by we Canadians were echoed by Uk audiences too.

    It seems to some that Mr Revel Harwood sexed Chess up to distract and also to act as a foil should it fail – ‘the people who didn’t get it are narrow minded.’
    Not so, while he had some good idea’s, but having the entire orchestra on stage meant the score suffered and the use of actor/musicians compromised the ability to convey. that was the productions undoing.
    It does have its moments but for me and the majority, they were too few and far too few between,

  • Heaven forbid should we let Canadians decide what we see in the west end of London.
    We loved it in the UK
    And The You tube comments are still overwhelmingly very VERY good.

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