Chess at the Kennedy Center is getting rave reviews and the reason it closed on Broadway the first time had more to do with politics than ticket sales. Now you have Raul Esparza (Broadway’s Leap of Faith, Company) as the American chess grandmaster Freddie Trumper and Ramin Karmiloo (The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies) as his Russian rival Anatoly Sergievsky. Karen Olivo (In The Heights, West Side Story revival) as Freddie’s handler, Florence and and as Anatoly’s estranged wife Svetlana, Ruthie Ann Miles (King and I). Also tearing up the stage is the narrator/Arbiter Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Holiday Inn).
We have included a video of Raul playing the arbitrator appeared as The Arbiter in the Actors Fund of America concert in September 2003, but if you click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_bUQZYMsq0 you will see he is better as the American. The whole cast is vocally rock-opera edginess perfection.
Chess is written by lyricist Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, etc.) and the music men from Swedish super-group ABBA, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The collaborators, revamped and rearranged score, new lyrics and a new book by Danny Strong.