Musical shows that all’s fair in love and the Cold War

Members of the cast rehearsing for the production of Chess
Members of the cast rehearsing for the production of Chess

With Chess the musical returning to the London stage this month, Lewes audiences have a chance of a sneak preview courtesy of LOS Musical Theatre.

Best known for its two hit singles, I Know Him So Well and One Night in Bangkok, made famous by Barbara Dickson/Elaine Paige and Murray Head respectively, Chess tells the story of two grand masters of the game, one a petulant American, the other a serious-minded Russian.

It is set against the background of pre-Glasnost Cold War sabre-rattling – sound familiar? Freddie Trumper (Hayden Cheyne) and Anatoly Sergievsky (Jack West) are focused on their game, but intertwined is the love story with Hungarian-born Englishwoman Florence Vassy (Helen Crees) torn between the pair of them and Sergievsky’s wife, Svetlana (Lucy Newth) providing a fourth pawn in this particular game.

As LOSMT’s publicity material states: “All’s fair in love and Cold War!”

Lurking in the wings are the CIA and KGB puppet-masters, Walter de Courcey (Gary Edwards) and Alexander Molokov (Duncan Taylor-Jones), each intent on ‘playing the game’, their aims more in line with The White House and The Kremlin than in noble victory over the 64 squares.

Keeping them all in some semblance of order is The Arbiter (Tom Freeman) who seeks only to uphold the status of the game and fights to keep everyone on track.

Director Andy Freeman insists that you don’t need to know anything about chess, nor do you need any understanding of super-power politics to enjoy this musical, penned by Tim Rice with music by Abba’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

Andy said: “It is undoubtedly an intricate story, but what carries it along is the long-established formula of a love triangle, combined with sumptuous music ranging from glorious choral pieces to banging rock numbers and that’s certainly provided a challenge for our singers.”

Musical director of the show, never performed in Lewes before, is Carl Greenwood with choreography by Joanna Thomas.

Chess opens at Lewes Town Hall on Tuesday, April 10, and runs nightly at 7.30pm until Saturday, April 14 (7pm on Saturday). Tickets from £12, with discounts for children, students and senior citizens, are available from www.losmt.org.uk