CONCERT CHESS at 42nd Street Moon
Chess in concert
Book by Richard Nelson
Music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson | By Tim Rice
Directed by Daren AC Carollo and Danny Cozart
Music directed and conducted by Daniel
42nd Rue Lune at the Alcazar Theater
42nd Street Moon hosted a successful three-night concert of Tim Rice’s Cold War history inspired by the political implications of the 1972 chess “Match of the Century” between Bobby Fisher and Boris Spassky. Excellent cast with glorious orchestration, Chess played to an almost complete enthusiast at the magnificent Alcazar theater.
Cleverly directed by Daren AC Carollo and Danny Cozart, this production is not a static reading but moves with the music, creating pop and energy. The lyrics are clearly identifiable like Rice’s, as are her hits. Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita and the music of Abba’s male duo Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson is surprisingly mature and consistent.
The tracks are superb starting with the improbable love triangle of the impetuous American chess champion Freddie Trumper (Kamren Mahaney), his manager Florence (Cate Hayman) and the Russian champion Anatoly (Jaron Vesely). Mahaney has the rock vocal chops and the necessary confidence, having performed in the rock musical. Rock of the ages. Cate Hayman, who wowed SF audiences as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, where she won the TBA and SFBATCC awards, easily oscillates between her contempt for Freddie and her newfound love for Anatoly. Jaron Vesely’s charming baritone elicits a man torn by the choices of a new love over family and the effects his defection has on those around him.
The score is quite ambitious and covers many genres, from the 80s disco hit “One Night in Bangkok”, to the majestic “Anthem”, and the extremely popular ballad “I Know Him So Well”. The 20-piece orchestra led by Daniel Thomas is certainly a highlight of this production. The supporting performances of B Noel Thomas as referee, Will Giammona as Molotov and Trixie Aballa as Svetlana complete this excellent presentation.
Needless to say, it was a joy to see the theater live again, see some familiar faces, and support 42nd Street Moon as it returns to normal.