Chess, the Musical, Opens in Moscow
CHESS, the legendary production about a confrontation between Soviet and American chess masters for the world chess crown, set against the backdrop of the Cold War, has finally made it to the Russian audience. This is possibly the only theatre production of such a scale in the world at the moment.
On October 17, the CHESS Grand Opening night in Moscow’s MDM Theatre was a rare red-carpet star-studded event where the politicians, business luminaries, and socialites mixed with the chess greats. After all, Russia is a country where chess is considered one of the most important sports.
The world premiere of CHESS was held in 1986 at London’s West End. Created by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA and Sir Tim Rice («Emmy», «Grammy», «Oscar» and «Tony»-awarded playwright) CHESS has since been staged all around the globe. Four great chess masters: Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer, Victor Korchnoy, and first and foremost – the world champion Anatoly Karpov, became prototypes for the two main characters. Karpov was present at the Opening Gala, smiling and signing autographs.
Sir Tim Rice, creator, says: «I just wanted to say, how incredibly grateful and excited I am, we all are, by the fact that CHESS is going to be done for the first time professionally, probably in any form by any people in Russia. It is going to be a terrific show! I’ve seen the arrangements, I’ve talked with the people working on the show. I know it’s going to be a great performance. I’m sure the show will be around for quite a long time in Russia. I will definitely get out there before too long. All I can say at the moment is, I’m very very grateful to you all, I’m very very thankful, that we’re in such good hands. Good luck to one and all».
Dmitry Bogachev, producer, CEO of Broadway Moscow Theatre Company, says: «CHESS, an acknowledged theatrical phenomenon, has taken on a renewed relevance these days. Behind the scenes of great victories and bitter defeats in any stand-off, there are always real people. Each with a complicated destiny, living out their emotions and acting at the limit of their abilities. Starting on October 17, this unique production will be presented at the MDM Theatre every night throughout the entire theatre season.
From the musical theatre point of view, there is absolutely nothing as great, monumental, and meaningful as CHESS. When two years ago after many years of hesitation I took on this material, I promised myself to create an interesting, spectacular, and emotional production, worthy of its magnificent music, and to carry the production process through, so that after 35 years Russian audience could finally experience this glorious musical!
We all have the feeling of euphoria about what we are creating, and that’s why we don’t feel neither fatigue nor fear».
The Russian production team went further than anyone else who staged CHESS. They partnered with the official chess gaming platform, FIDE Online Arena, and invited everyone who bought tickets to the show to play official tournaments online to feel what it’s like to be a professional chess player.
Ilya Merenzon, CEO of World Chess, the gaming platform, says: “The show is amazing, and we believe that by visiting CHESS, spectators not only have a wonderful experience but also stay with chess for decades”.
The new unique concept of the Russian original production is created by top Russia’s creative team, helmed by Director Evgeny Pisarev, the Artistic Director of Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre (also known for his productions at the Bolshoi Theatre, Chekhov’s Moscow Art Theatre) with Musical Director John Rigby (CHESS at ENO, School of Rock, An American in Paris, Jesus Christ Superstar World Arena Tour) and the Producer Dmitry Bogachev (Broadway’s Anastasia, The Phantom of The Opera (Moscow), MAMMA MIA! and Chicago (Moscow and S-Petersburg) and many other musicals in Russia).