With the news that Tim Rice, Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus’ musical Chess is to receive its first major London revival in 30 years (and with tickets now on sale), we revisit the original album recording to bring you five of our favourite songs from the musical (and a couple of brilliantly ‘80s music videos).
Written by great musical lyricist Sir Tim Rice, with music by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, Chess will be returning to London for its first major revival in the capital for over 30 years.
Chess is set around a chess tournament between two grandmasters, one American, the other a Soviet. Between them, apart from a chess board, is a woman who manages one of the men, and who falls in love with the other.
The musical started life as a concept album recorded in 1984, and it featured Elaine Paige, Murray Head, Tommy Körberg and Denis Quilley. It introduced the world to songs such as "I Know Him So Well" and "One Night in Bangkok", with the former holding the number one slot in the UK singles chart for four weeks, and winning an Ivor Novello Award. The original performers of the album went on to perform the songs at a concert at the Barbican Centre, a production which toured some major European cities.
In 1986, the stage version of the musical premiered at the Prince Edward Theatre directed by Trevor Nunn (after Michael Bennett was forced to withdraw with illness). Paige, Körberg and Head reprised their roles from the concept album for the musical, and were joined by the likes of Anthony Head, Ria Jones and David Burt. The show ran for three years, and received three Olivier Award nominations, including one for Best Musical.
The show first opened on Broadway in 1988, reimagining the West End version for an America audience. Playwright Richard Nelson was brought on board by Nunn to work on the show, changing many elements of the plot, characters, and settings.
This new production at the London Coliseum will be directed by Laurence Connor, who directed both School of Rock and Miss Saigon on Broadway and in the West End, with choreography by Stephen Mear. It runs at the Coliseum from 26th April to 2nd June.
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The musical Chess is set to be revived in London by the English National Opera, and is set for a run at the London Coliseum next spring. Written by Tim Rice and ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, the musical is set against the backdrop of the Cold War, and is about a chess tournament between American and Soviet grandmasters who fight over a woman. Tickets for Chess at the London Coliseum are now on sale.