Saturday, June 13, 2009


Well my dumplings, it’s finally arrived, and your Auntie Helen couldn’t be more excited. From the time she first picked up the double LP concept recording back in 1984, put it on her turn table and screamed WTF as that gorgeous score proceeded to wash over her, yours truly has been a devoted CHESS junkie.

And now - at last - PBS is airing CHESS in Concert starring WICKED’s Idina Menzel and RENT’s Adam Pascal as they join Great Performances favorite Josh Groban in a spectacular London concert revival of Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus’ 1986 cult musical, on June17, 2009 on Great Performances (check local listings). Presented by THIRTEEN in 5.1 digital surround sound on PBS HD, and featuring diamond-sharp lyrics by Tim Rice (EVITA, THE LION KING), the hit-filled production ("One Night in Bangkok," "I Know Him So Well," Anthem," Nobody’s Side," Someone Else’s Story") was recorded in performance at Royal Albert Hall.

"A fantastic night" proclaimed, while asked "Is there an original pop musical stuffed with better melodies?" neatly echoing Time's initial 1988 assessment: "One of the best rock scores ever produced." Adding to the excitement is the 50-piece City of London Philharmonic, led by David Firman, and over 100-voice West End Chorus.

ABBA composers Andersson and Ulvaeus created their first musical theater work more than a decade before striking pay dirt with their phenomenon, MAMMA MIA. It was the inspired idea of lyricist/librettist Rice to match the pair with his cold war tale: the East/West Chess Championship and the romantic triangle that develops between the Russian and American competitors and the beautiful woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Chart topper Groban (Awake, Closer, Noel) sings the Russian player, Anatoly; RENT Tony and Drama Desk Award-nominee Pascal is the American Freddie, and Tony-winner Menzel (WICKED Witch Elphaba) is Florence, the woman between them.

Recorded at Albert Hall May 12, 2008, CHESS in Concert will also be released on CD/DVD. You can watch the wonderful trailer here: or go to the official website at

Don't cheat yourself and miss out on this marvelous theatrical event. Remember to watch!

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