I was not familiar with this musical and little did I know I was in for a treat. I was enthralled from beginning to end. The musical is a romantic epic concerning a love triangle that arises between two Chess Grandmasters, one Russian and one American, and the Hungarian-born refugee caught between them. This musical tells us that all the world is a chess game and we are merely the pawns playing the game.
The imposing figure of Julian Smith (The Arbiter) in his amazing costume set the stage for what was to come. His performance was outstanding and he commanded the stage every time he appeared. His diction and timing were superb and not a word was missed by the audience. Florence Vassy, played by Anne-Marie Davies, again a truly memorable performance. Her voice was incredible, how she attained some of those notes is remarkable. Her performance built up as the show progressed and she was so totally her character, I felt her sadness and her joy. Well done, Anne-Marie, you were truly amazing, you really did the part justice.
Rossano Sal as Anatoly Sergievsky never disappoints, his incredible voice doesn’t put a foot wrong, and he was very believable as a Grandmaster. As was Alan Colclough as Frederick Trumper, a very different character from Anotoly, a self-centred man who only cared about himself and chess, his role was both powerful and convincing.
Chelsea Robson (Svetlana) gave an excellent performance as the wife of Anatoly and her duet with Anne-Marie was powerful and captivating, the harmonies were beautiful on the ear – I was left hoping for more! Bev Beck as Jacqueline De Courcey, who worked for the CIA, gave an excellent performance, her American accent was good, although I had difficulty seeing her face some of the time because of her hair!
The 4 reporters Jess, Ashleigh, Rebecca and Chris were particularly realistic when interviewing the Chess Masters, their interaction was excellent. The Company in general had an amazing wealth of talent, the powerful singing voices, the wide range of ages and shapes and sizes really made the whole production realistic.
Much of the choreography was innovative, depicting the chess pieces, and the dancers did this really well to capture this in many of their moves, particularly their arms and hands.
There were a few issues with the lighting on opening night, but I am sure this will be ironed out for the rest of the week. The band was a little loud on occasions drowning out the wonderful singing, but this did not detract from the obvious talent of Alastair M R Hume, the Musical Director, and his enthusiastic orchestra.
The stage management seemed to go like clockwork throughout and scenery was moved in and out without me noticing. I thought the set and the staging of the company did indeed give some lovely pictures and was all very well thought out to give the most impact.
Jonathan Shiner (Director), Jo Mansfield (Producer) and their production team did a superb job with Chess, executing this production to such high standard.
It really was a show well worth seeing which I will certainly promote on all your media channels. Well done!