Shortly after the US Touring Production opened in Florida, another version of Chess opened in Chicago, at the Lincolnshire Marriott Theatre. It was directed by David H Bell who, along with his creative team had been egger to stage the show ever since seeing it in London. The theatre is in the arena style, so this was probably the first ever production staged in the round, though it could probably be more accurately described as in the square!
The team were obliged to use the Broadway book, but were able to make at least a few alterations. They felt the Broadway characters were somewhat unsympathetic and this was one of the major aspects of the show they wanted to try and correct. With small line alterations they were able to make the characters seem more human, more sympathetic and more likeable.
During the Prologue Gregor Vassy sings The Story of Chess and also Apukad to his small daughter. He makes two amulets from chess pieces, giving one to his Florence before she is taken from him. At the end of the show Florence is told Anatoly has been traded for a CIA agent, but then someone brings her a parcel from Anatoly. When she opens it she finds a chess piece just like the one her father gave her. Anatoly had suspected that she might get tricked by Walter and Molokov and made his own deal. An old man is brought to Florence, the Apukad as they are reunited and the chorus end the show with a choral Anthem reprise.
Being a theatre in the round, the sets by necessity had to be kept to a minimum. The stage was a chess board with locations created with skilled use of lighting and by raising sections of the floor to represent beds and tables. In several scenes locations were overlapped, with one bed serving two separate hotel suites, creating very fluid scene transitions.
A number of human chess pieces were introduced including an American and Russian King and Queen and several Knights. These were used to emphasise or illustrate certain elements of the plot and metaphors within the story. Dressed in beautiful black, gold and silver costumes they moved through the action, helping to create location and scenes.
The production was very well conceived and executed, which managed to win over even the older and less adventuress members of the theatre's regular audience. It got good reviews and its limited run was sold-out.
Song / Scene List
Prologue - Budapest 1956 PROLOGUE MUSIC / THE STORY OF CHESS APUKAD Florence's father gives her one of two chess pieces on a chain, keeping one for himself
Act One - Bangkok (Present day)
WHAT A SCENE! Press Conference - reporters ask questions - Freddie storms out PRESS CONFERENCE - "Well what did we say, he's out of his tree...." SMILE, YOU GOT YOUR FIRST Walter, Freddie and Florence / Anatoly and Molokov (Split bedroom set.....) WHERE I WANT TO BE HOW MANY WOMEN THE ARBITER Molokov & Florence - About the chairs US v USSR (Encouraging times, but only first verse) THE ARBITER (Continued) CHESS 1 Yoghurt! QUARTET Molokov and Florence - arranging the meeting Walter, Florence, Freddie - Publicity and discussing Freddie's walk out YOU WANT TO LOSE YOU ONLY FRIEND? SOMEONE ELSE'S STORY ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK The Restaurant - dialogue TERRACE DUET CHESS (Reprise) In the middle of the duet... staged as a pas de deux) TERRACE DUET (Continued) WHO'D EVER THINK IT CHESS 2 FLORENCE QUITS A TASTE OF PITY NOBODY'S SIDE Underground Car Park: Walter, Flo and Anatoly - defection REPORTERS ANTHEM
Act Two - Budapest (Two months later)
Anatoly, Florence and Walter in a church Florence and Molokov in the church HEAVEN HELP MY HEART Freddie's Hotel Suite - Freddie being interviewed by a reporter Walter arrives, they argue about a meeting with the secretary of state NO CONTEST Anatoly and Florence, Anatoly's friends and news of Svetlana in Bangkok YOU AND I YOU KNEW BETTER / YOU AND I - Svetlana (Svetlana's hotel room) Molokov and Anatoly - re the problems of family back in Russia A WHOLE NEW BOARD GAME Molokov and Walter - re info that Florence's father is alive LET'S WORK TOGETHER Walter and Florence - Is it possible her father could be alive, Svetlana passes through Anatoly and Florence - news of Anatoly's nephew's accident I KNOW HIM SO WELL (In two separate hotel rooms) Anatoly and Florence - re her father Florence and Freddie - Florence asks for five day postponement PITY THE CHILD Florence and Anatoly - re no postponement, he either plays or forfeits the match ENDGAME Anatoly throws the match Airport - Anatoly and Svetlana then Anatoly and Florence YOU AND I Walter, Molokov and Florence - an agent is being released rather than her father Florence and a stranger - He gives her a package sent from Anatoly, it is the chess piece her father gave her... The man returns with her father. APUKAD Instrumental ANTHEM Choral version
Florence: Susie McMonagle Anatoly: David Studwell Freddie: Kim Strauss Walter: Dale Morgan Molokov: Neil Friedman Svetlana: Susan Moniz The Arbiter: Alton F White Russian 'King': Harrison McEldowney American 'King': Rob Rahn Gregor Vassy: Larry Russo Florence (as child): Erin Stites American 'Queen': Lori Longstreth Nicolai: Randal Keith Harold: Rob Rahn
The Chorus: Randal Keith, Larry Russo, Robert Winn Austin, James Braet, Patti Davidson-Gorbea, Douglas Graham, Lori Longstreth, Catherine Lord, Harrison McEldowney, Rob Rain, Russell Reneau, Karyn Young-Lowe
The Creative Team
Directer and Choreographer: David H. Bell Set Designer: Thomas M. Ryan, U.S.A.A. Costume Designer: Nancy Missimi, U.S.A.A. Lighting Designer: Diane Ferry Williams Properties: Kathy Klaisner Sound Designer: Randy Allen Johns Orchestral Reducation: David Siegel Synthesizer/MIDI Design and Programming: Brett Alan Sommer Assistant Director: Dyanne Earley