Music: Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus

Lyrics: Tim Rice

Book: Richard Nelson

Using as a metaphor the world of international chess, Tim Rice originally conceived to write a musical about how the Cold War affected the lives of all those it touched. The story revolves around the romantic triangle that develops when an American chess champion and his lover travel to Merano to defend his title against a Russian opponent who secretly plans to defect to the West.

Rice originally approached Andrew Lloyd Webber to write the score, but his former partner was already committed to other projects. Then, in 1981, producer Richard Vos introduced Rice to Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, two members of ABBA who were looking to branch out into musical theatre. The team immediately set about creating a concept album. Two numbers from the album did well in the charts. "One Night in Bangkok" first appeared on the UK charts on November 10, 1984 and stayed there for 13 weeks, at one point reaching the #12 spot. In the US, it jumped to #9 in April of 1985 and topped the charts in France, Australia, Belgium, Austria, South Africa, Denmark, Israel, West Germany, Switzerland, Holland and Sweden as well. Another single, "I Know Him So Well," followed, eventually reaching #1 on the UK charts during its 16 week run. With Chess already a worldwide phenomenon before it had even opened, expectations were high. The London production opened in the West End on May 14, 1986 and ran for three years, but the high tech spectacle never managed to make back its initial investment

The show was drastically altered before moving to Broadway. Instead of having the show completely "sung-through" as it had been in London, Director Trevor Nunn chose to bring in playwright Richard Nelson to write a book for the show. Rice also added several new songs including "Someone Else's Story." The Broadway production opened at the Imperial Theatre on April 28, 1988 with an entirely new cast, but it proved even less of a commercial success than its predecessor, losing $6 million dollars and closing after only 68 performances. A later concert, however, which featured the Broadway cast at Carnegie Hall was a huge success, and there continue to be reports that Tim Rice plans to mount another Broadway production of Chess.

Cast Albums  |  Sheet Music


Cast Albums

Sheet Music

Related Sites

British Theatre Index

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