Sir Tim Rice – 60 second interview

Sir Tim Rice talks 'CHESS' with icethesite - photo: Christopher Jones
Sir Tim Rice talks ‘CHESS’ with icethesite – photo: Christopher Jones

To coincide with the premiere of the latest production of CHESS at London’s Union Theatre, Sir Tim Rice spoke to icethesite and answered a few questions about his thoughts on the musical’s past, present and future:

Q. If you were to start over again with CHESS, knowing what you know now, how might it differ?

A. “If I were re-launching CHESS today I would give the show a different title. I wouldn’t make such major changes from the original album for the stage production and I would never let other writers into the project.”

Q. Is CHESS at the Union Theatre in London likely to be transferred to the West End?

A. “Although I have not yet seen the Union Theatre’s staging, I believe it to be a very intimate version and I have no expectation that this production will transfer to the West End.”

Q. CHESS has had many theatrical incarnations since it first premiered in 1986, each seemingly more “definitive” than the last. Where will they end?

A. “I have no idea, but I wish they would!”

Q. In the 80s, us long-time CHESS fans were used to hearing rumours about CHESS – The Musical – The Movie! In reality, how realistic a possibility was this?

A. “I would love to see CHESS made into a movie. It would be much easier for audiences to follow the plot as they would be able to hear the words. We would then at last have one unchangeable version! After the success of Les Miserables as a film I think there may be a renewed interest in CHESS as a movie. We have had a few approaches over the years but nothing has yet materialised.”

Thanks to Sir Tim for his time and here are some images from CHESS at the tiny Union Theatre in London:

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  • Bring on the Movie, that would be fabulous

  • How about a Blu Ray or BBCHD transmission of the RAH Event or even the Union theatre one for starters ? The RAH DVD was NTSC only, but it’s been on PBS HD.

    After the success of Mamma Mia the Movie, why not a CHESS movie ?!
    I’d love it.

  • Thanks for this interview. Is it me or does he sound a little frustrated with Chess?! I heard that if Les Mis was a successful film then Miss Saigon may follow which would be great. Chess as movie too? Fabulous – but who could ever sing “Anthem” like our Tommy?

  • I would love to see a Film of chess.
    I always thought Alan Parker would make a great director of Chess,
    But it seems the Director of the kings speech is great at musicals.
    Not sure about singing live on the film set though,
    But however its done Chess is a musical that is screaming out to be made into an incredible!!!!! film.

  • Hi Sara – I think Sir Tim is simply frustrated with all the different versions of CHESS. He has said in the past that the show is his “all-time favourite” and “as good as anything I’ve ever done.”

    I imagine as the book writer, it is frustrating for him to see others attempt to re-write the show and stray from what is the ‘definitive’ version in his eyes i.e. the Royal Albert Hall concert version of the story, which this production follows and is of course, almost exactly the same as the original London production.

    I’m just guessing though!

  • The stills for this union theatre production jut look incredible.
    I wonder if there will be a video, for those unable to get to this innovative production. The use of space and acoustic performance must be mind blowing.
    For me Chess is Tim Rices best work and Benny and Bjorns most interesting music
    Soaring heights of brilliance achieved all rounds.

  • I would think “Chess” would need to be updated to maybe be about a battle between two genius computer programers to win the ultimate game of mankind which would be something a little more exciting than chess. This would take it into the sci-fantasy genre. Possibly even creating a virtual environment mixed with live actors. It would become a sci-fantasy musical I guess. The music would also need new arrangements and effects but hopefully not cheapened.

    Just an idea.

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