Chess The Musical

Date 8th April 2022
Society Heanor Musical Theatre Company
Venue Mansfield Palace Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Paul Andrew Young
Musical Director Ben Ward
Choreographer Cat Howourth

Report

Author: Joyce Handbury

Chess The Musical was written in 1984 by ABBA songwriters Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus with lyrics Tim Rice. The story involves a politically driven, Cold War-era chess tournament between two grandmasters, one American and the other Russian, and their fight over an Hungarian refugee who manages one and falls in love with the other all happening within the glare of the media spotlight and political machinations.

These two protagonists of the chess world were equally matched in their respective performances. Andy Quinn gave a stunning vocal portrayal as Frederick Trumper, the American chess master. He totally captured the brash and arrogant side of the character masterfully but seriously and so movingly delivered ‘Pity the Child’. Kyle Fearn gave an amazing portrayal as Anatoly Sergievsky. He was quite reserved initially, as befits the character, his drive and ambition overshadowing his underlying passion which comes to light on meeting and falling in love with Florence. He too has a fabulous singing voice and his rendition of ‘Anthem’ was just spine-tingling. A pivotal role is that of Florence Vassey, Frederick’s second and implied lover. Sarah Evans-Bolger’s interpretation of this very exacting role was spot on. She has great stage presence and she totally portrayed the many and a varied emotions exquisitely in her superb delivery of the many numbers she so effortlessly and wonderfully sang. Especially noteworthy was the singing of ‘I Know Him So well’ beautifully sung with Svetlana and ‘You and I‘ with Anatoly. Kheenan Jones gave a very convincing performance as Alexander Molokov the Russian agent and Anatoly’s second. His powerful singing together with his accent made him a definite force to be reckoned with. As The Arbiter, Jack Readyhoof commanded and controlled the event with great singing and enthusiasm and Ben Sherwin embodied the smooth and smarmy TV boss perfectly. The small but essential role of Svetlana Sergievsky was extremely glamorously and beautifully played and sung by Alana Moran. The rendition of the duet with Florence, as already mentioned, was captivating. The Company, Charlotte Swindells, Ben Riley, Chrissie Smyth, Roger Bode, Suzy Meeson, Brett Walker, Victoria Palmer and Joe Woffinden gave excellent support either by playing small cameo roles as well as being in the ensemble numbers which were harmoniously and effectively sung with accompanying choreography, where appropriate. The set of two scaffolding towers at either side of the stage was connected by a walkway and the back of the stage was enhanced by a large digital screen which innovatively conveyed proceedings of the actual chess game, various pertinent locations plus the images from the On Stage Camera, operated by Amy Taylor. It was just a shame that the height of the walkway somewhat obscured certain images and facts that were shown on the screen. An excellent lighting plot, good costumes and props, a nine piece orchestra together with an outstanding principal line-up and a fine supporting cast all added to produce a very worthy production. Congratulations to everyone involved and may I add my thanks to the warm welcome I received from Chairman, Lucy Young.