The Barn Stage Company Presents Chess in Concert
Broadway musicals have had an array of subjects ranging from gang wars to alley cats to man-eating alien plants. Chess the Musical takes a two-person intellect driven board game and uses it as the backdrop for drama, rock music and romance.
When the Barn Stage Company presents Chess in Concert, on stage at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater September 1-4, Director Jordan Beck looks forward to introducing local audiences to the music of the relatively new, award-winning, show.
“We wanted to follow up our success of Carousel in Concert with something a bit more contemporary, yet still traditional, in a sense, musically,” Beck said during a recent interview. “This is a big musical with soaring ballads, gorgeous duets, and some of the greatest hits written for the Broadway stage.”
Originally produced in London’s West End in 1986, Chess tells the story of a chess match between two grandmasters, one American and one Russian, during the Cold War. The men, loosely based on Bobby Fischer and Russian champions, Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov, fall in love with the same woman, resulting in an on-stage love triangle.
The music for Chess was written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, formerly of the seventies pop group ABBA, combined with lyrics by a Broadway legend.
“There are none of ABBA’s greatest hits, like ‘Mamma Mia’ or ‘Dancing Queen,’ shoehorned into the show, but their musical style is very much intact,” Beck said. “Add to that the lyrics of Tim Rice of Evita, The Lion King and Jesus Christ Superstar and you have the makings of a truly remarkable score, which Chess definitely is.”
Though audiences may not be familiar with the full musical, songs from Chess have become a part of mainstream pop culture, with remakes by notable stars making it to the airwaves for decades.
“There are countless songs in the show that will have audiences on their feet and, in listening to the soundtrack again, I was reminded just how many tunes I recognized outside of the context of the show,” Beck said. “With hits like ‘Pity The Child,’ ‘One Night in Bangkok,’ and ‘I Knew Him So Well,’ Chess in Concert is really the musical gift that keeps on giving.”
The cast of the Barn Stage Company’s Chess in Concert features seasoned professionals Michael McCorry Rose as Anatoly, Rena Strober in the role of Florence, Louis Pardo as Freddie and Elizabeth Brackenbury as Svetlana.
When searching for the perfect follow up to Carousel, Beck and his Co-Producer J. Scott Lapp searched for a show that would take full advantage of the local talent they had at their fingertips.
“In choosing shows for our Concert Series, we look at pieces that include a larger orchestra, so as to utilize the Temecula Valley Symphony to its full potential,” he said. “Chess will feature a 25-piece orchestra as well as an onstage choir of 20, and that’s not even including our all-star cast of principals and the featured ensemble.”
With only four performances in a fairly small, 335 seat theater, Beck encourages those interested in seeing Chess in Concert to buy their tickets early, as it might be the only chance they have to see such a unique production.
“Chess is not done very often, simply because of the sheer scale of the show and the vocal demands of the cast,” Beck said. “If you want to hear some truly incredible voices, backed by a 25-piece orchestra and a 20-person choir, now is the time. It’s going to blow the roof off the Temecula Theater.”
For tickets and information for Chess in Concert and other upcoming performances by the Barn Stage Company, visit their website at www.thebarnstagecompany.com.