Shakhmaty
November 6, 2020 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Over 35 years after the concept album, and 34 after its London debut, the musical Chess is going through its debut in Moscow, in a new Russian translation. The musical has a long production history, and a story that has changed over the years, but the music has kept it beloved. The Russian production includes rewrites that humanize its KGB antagonist and has received at least some positive notice.

YouTube clips:
Trailer / One Night in Bangkok
I Know Him So Well
Nobody's Side (done on a Russian talk show)
Pity the Child (in Russian but covered by an actor not affiliated with the show)
Someone Else's Story
The Soviet Machine (preview performance)
posted by graymouser (14 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh my! I had not heard about this at all. Excellent! I saw the original runs in both London and NY and have great affection for the show so I'm eager to see what this iteration is like.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:36 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Ooh! What is it about this show that makes it so ripe for reinvention? I have an incredible affection for the original UK cast recording (significantly less so for the US version) and am very intrigued by this new production!
posted by merriment at 8:18 AM on November 6


What is it about this show that makes it so ripe for reinvention?

A large part of it is probably the fantastic music and setting combined with a book that no one is ever happy with. It's also a fairly compact musical conceptually - you can do it full blown West End/Broadway style or minimally with just 10 actors in an outdoor amphitheater (which the Toledo Rep did fantastically just this summer!)
posted by charred husk at 8:27 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]


What is it about this show that makes it so ripe for reinvention?

Basically - nobody was really satisfied with how the show was in London. Trevor Nunn had his idea; it flamed out on Broadway (although the script is salvageable, and I've worked with productions that I think did a decent job with it). Ever since, people have tried to fix the show - from the absolutely wild version in Sydney, Australia to the completely rewritten Swedish translation to Tim Rice's own edits of the London show - without arriving at a definitive solution. It has great music and a somewhat broken storyline. Great actors or a great production can do wonders.
posted by graymouser at 8:31 AM on November 6 [3 favorites]


Also, speaking if reinvention, the Japanese production certainly has a certain look.
posted by charred husk at 8:33 AM on November 6 [5 favorites]


I didn’t expect to get so emotional about this!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:41 AM on November 6 [3 favorites]


I saw it in London when I was 14 and have always loved it. It is a heady mix of kitsch and class. My Russian is now so terrible that I'm having trouble catching a lot of the words to One Night in Bangkok.
posted by less of course at 11:02 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]


Oh wow also this Anastasia Stotskaya who's playing Florence in the "Nobody's Side" clip is REALLY GOOD.
posted by less of course at 11:08 AM on November 6 [3 favorites]


Oh wow also this Anastasia Stotskaya who's playing Florence in the "Nobody's Side" clip is REALLY GOOD

I know, right? It's a big part of why I wanted to share this. It's on par with Karen Olivo who was in the Washington DC production I was lucky enough to catch back in 2018, she blew the house down with it.
posted by graymouser at 11:26 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]


This is very very very relevant to my interests. all of it. i was so frustrated that only the Broadway version ever ran in the US for ages and ages, and the only recent local stagings mounted have been one-off benefits. These international productions are SO GOOD. Also holy crap that Kennedy Center production.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:42 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


This is incredible timing. I've been wanting to find a way to finally see Chess in some form, in these COVID times. I'd prefer an English-language production, but in looking up the Swedish one and seeing this new news, I'm feeling good that I'll get to see it somehow.
posted by cardioid at 1:05 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


"I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine" + "Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham Suite"

I unabashedly loved "Chess" in high school (mid-1980s). I finally saw it in the West End in 1988. Big-ass revolving chessboard stage.

Sweet.
posted by chavenet at 1:43 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


Wow this looks amazing. I was super fortunate to see the Chess revival in London a few years ago and it was amazing. I'm really sad I can't go see this one.
posted by rhiannonstone at 3:52 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


I played the American in a production in 1997 or 1998 and it was one of the most fun performances I've ever done.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 12:24 PM on November 9 [4 favorites]


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