This was a fairly small scale production, but with big ambitions and a wonderful cast. Directed by the highly respected Gale Edwards, it was very highly anticipated. The book followed the basic London structure with just a few alterations to song location and lyrics. The strangest relocation was Heaven Help My Heart being moved to near the top of the show. Commie Newspapers was cut and only the one line. "Freddie I love you very much, but just for once, don't go on about the Russians at the press conference." was retained from the scene. This came at the end of What a Scene and then straight into Heaven Help My Heart. There seemed little reason for Florence to be singing it at this point, but she did and it was now obviously about her relationship with Freddie, rather than Anatoly.
From here it went to Press Conference and more or less followed the normal order. During Nobody's Side Florence left the stage and the song was completed by the Arbiter and the chorus. Pity the Child was moved to act two and A Taste of Pity used just after Florence Quits. Someone Else's Story came just after TV Interview and was sung by Svetlana. Pity the Child came after The Deal and before I Know Him So Well. The rest followed the normal order, though they did add a Nobody's Side reprise after the Anthem finale, but only as a sort of encore.
Although it was a simple static stage, there were proper production numbers, with elaborate choreography, such as aerial silks during One Night in Bangkok. It sounded stunning and by all accounts, was. Some contemporary ballet was included during the chess games, but one critic sited this as 'schizophrenic psycho-ballet' and thought that along with other moments in the show, the score and story were having unnecessary frills and flourishes added to it. Another said that act one especially suffered from one production number after another, making it difficult to become involved with the characters.
The production generally received good reviews though and went on to be nominated for 11 and win 7 Green Room awards:
Winners: Direction Gale Edwards / Outstanding Musical Production The Production Company / Actress in a Leading Role Silvie Paladino / Actress in a Supporting Role Alinta Chidzey / Choreography Tony Bartuccio / Design – Lighting and/or Sound Peter Grubb, Mark Benson & David Tonion for System Sound / Design – Set and/or Costume Krystal Giddings (Costume)
Nominated but didn't win; Actor In A Leading Role Martin Crewes & Simon Gleeson Design - Set And/Or Costume Shaun Gurton (Set Design) Musical Direction David Piper
Chess also had two nominations for the Helpmann Awards: SilviePaladino for Best Female Actor in a Musical &Tony Bartuccio for Best Choreography in a Musical. Unfortunately neither of them won.
Song / Scene List
OVERTURE - PROLOGUE THE STORY OF CHESS MERANO WHAT A SCENE HEAVEN HELP MY HEART (Repositioning of this song, making it about Freddie and Florence) PRESS CONFERENCE Molokov and Anatoly WHERE I WANT TO BE US v USSR (difficult times) THE ARBITER CHESS HYMN MERCHANDISERS CHESS 1 Walter TV Report - The pieces have been thrown to the floor... the champion has walked out... QUARTET FLORENCE & MOLOKOV YOU WANT TO LOSE YOUR ONLY FRIEND NOBODY'S SIDE (Florence leaves stage before end of song and the Arbiter and chorus finish it.) Arbiter: Explains about the meeting and that Freddie has not turned up... MOUNTAIN DUET WHO'D EVER THINK IT CHESS 2 Report: Freddie has resigned... FLORENCE QUITS TASTE OF PITY Report: The drama is now off the board... Reporters and Anatoly - new lines for Anatoly... ANTHEM
ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK Walter TV report - introduces Freddie ONE MORE OPPONENT YOU AND I SOVIET MACHINE Walter & Molokov - Father in prison with American prisoners ... INTERVIEW Heart warming international cooperation..... SOMEONE ELSE'S STORY (Svetlana) THE DEAL (new lines for Florence) PITY THE CHILD I KNOW HIM SO WELL TALKING CHESS ENDGAME some lyrics changed New lines here YOU AND I Walter & Florence ANTHEM (Reprise) Florence NOBODY'S SIDE (Reprise) Arbiter and company
Florence: Silvie Paladino Freddie: Martin Crewes Anatoly: Simon Gleeson Svetlana: Alinta Chidzey Molokov: Mark Dickinson Walter: Bert LaBonte The Arbiter: Michael Falzon
The Chorus: Jessica Armstrong, Dave Burrows, Madeline Cain, Rachel Cole, Anthony Costanzo, Nelson Gardner, Jillian Green, Danny Golding, Tyler Hawkins, Crystal Hegedis, Raelene Isbester, Rosa McCarty, Turanga Merito, Jessica Mortlock, Chris Ostrenski, Joel Parnis, Anthony Pepe, Jordan Pollard, Collin Poole, James Shannon, Catherine Shepherd, Esther Stephens, Cameron Thomas, Dean Vince, Matt Ward and Wei Wei Zhang.
The Creative Team
Director: Gale Edwards Choreographer: Tony Bartuccio Set Design: Shaun Gurton Costume Design: Krystal Giddings Lighting: Paul Jackson & Robert Cuddon Musical Director: David Piper