Chess

by  Benny Andersson, Richard Nelson, Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulvaeus

Full Length Musical, Drama  /  9m, 2f, 1boy(s) or girl(s)

"One of the best rock scores ever produced. This is an angry, difficult, demanding and rewarding show." - TIME

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License Estimator

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    9m, 2f, 1boy(s) or girl(s)
  • Duration

    Duration

    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Adaptations (Literature), Period
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    Tony, From Broadway, From West End
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Appropriate for all audiences
    • Adult

Additional Info

The collaborators on Chess are giants of rock music and rock musicals, and here they have created a complex rock opera that played to full Broadway houses and standing ovations. In this musical, the ancient game becomes a metaphor for romantic rivalries, competitive gamesmanship, super-power politics, and international intrigues. The pawns in this drama form a love triangle: the loutish American chess star, the earnest Russian champion, and a Hungarian American female assistant who arrives at the international chess match in Bangkok with the American, but falls for the Russian. From Bangkok to Budapest the players, lovers, politicians, and spies manipulate and are manipulated to the pulse of a monumental rock score that includes “One Night in Bangkok” and “Heaven Help My Heart.”

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Reviews

REVIEWS

"One of the best rock scores ever produced. This is an angry, difficult, demanding and rewarding show." - TIME

"Worth seeing." - New York Post

Videos

  • Chess
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Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage

Cautions

  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1980s, 1950s
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting:

    Budapest; Thailand; JFK Airport between 1956 and the 1980's.

  • Additional Features: Not Applicable
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Vocal Demands: Difficult
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Large

Song Samples

Prologue
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Story of Chess
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Where I Want to Be
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How Many Women
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Quartet
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You Want to Lose Your Only Friend
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Someone Else's Story
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One Night in Bangkok
0:00
Terrace Duet
0:00
Nobody's Side
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Anthem
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Hungarian Folk Song
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Heaven Help My Heart
0:00
No Contest
0:00
You and I
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I Know Him So Well
0:00
Pity the Child
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Lullaby
0:00
Endgame
0:00
You and I (Reprise)
0:00

Casting

9m, 2f, 1boy(s) or girl(s)

FLORENCE - strong belt voice (to E). Mid-thirties. Born in Hungary (so musn't look like an "All-American Girl"); has been brought up in America since 1956. She is clever, theatrical, touching, vivacious, volatile. Frederick's chess "second."
FREDDIE - Rock tenor (to C). Mid-thirties. An American chess champion. A cross between Bobby Fisher and John McEnroe. Arrogant and temperamental, but a genius; his chess playing revolutionary. We need to see his artistry along with his danger and his obsessiveness.
ANATOLY - Baritone (to G sharp). Early forties. A Russian chess champion. Unexpectedly charming. He doesn't seem a romantic hero at first, but becomes one through his personality. An intelligent, feeling, passionate man.
MOLOKOV - Bass (down to F sharp). Fifties. Not a fake, comic, stage Russian. Intellectually formidable. Seemingly a father figure to Florence. Anatoly's chess "second." An actor who sings well.
SVETLANA - strong belt voice. Late thirties. Anatoly's wife. Domestic, wholesome, homey. A dramatic contrast to Florence - not a contemporary cosmopolitan woman.
WALTER - Bass-Baritone (down to G sharp). Fifties. A marketing agent. Seemingly respectable, substantial, trustworthy. An actor who sings well.
ARBITER - rock high baritone (up to A). Thirty to early forties. International businessman. Smooth, but with a quick temper.
GREGORY VASSY
YOUNG FLORENCE
NIKOLAI
JOE
HAROLD
ENSEMBLE

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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

Resources

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package

2 Piano/Conductor Scores
30 Vocal Chorus Books

Reed I (Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet)
Reed II (Oboe, Flute, Clarinet, English Horn)
Reed III (Clarinet, Flute, Bass Clarinet)
Reed IV (Bassoon, Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone)
Horn
Trumpet I
Trumpet II
Trumpet III
Trombone I
Trombone II
Drums
Percussion (Timpani, Mallets, etc.)
Guitar
Keyboard I (Piano/Synthesizer)
Keyboard II (Synthesizer)
Keyboard III (Synthesizer)
Violins (3 books)
Cello
Bass

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Authors

Benny Andersson

Benny Andersson

Richard Nelson

Richard Nelson's plays include The Gabriel Plays (Women Of A Certain Age, What Did You Expect?, Hungry), Oblivion, Nikolai And The Others, The Apple Family Plays (That Hopey Changey Thing, Sweet And Sad, Regular Singing), Farewell To The Theatre, Conversations In Tusculum, Frank’s Home, How Shakespeare Won The West, Ro ...

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Tim Rice

Tim Rice was born in 1944. He began songwriting in 1965 in which year the first song he wrote, ‘That’s My Story’ ” (tune as well as words) was recorded by a rock group called The Nightshift whose career never recovered.That same year he met fellow budding songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber whos ...

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Bjorn Ulvaeus

Bjorn Ulvaeus

Chess premiered in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on May 14, 1986. It was produced by Three Knights, Robert Fox, The Shubert Organization and ABC Video Enterprises.

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