Groban & Menzel Star in Chess at Royal Albert HallDate: 11 January 2008
Chart topper Josh Groban (pictured) and Tony and Whatsonstage.com Award winner Idina Menzel will star in a 21st anniversary concert production of Chess, which will be staged for two nights only at the Royal Albert Hall on 12 and 13 May 2008.
Groban and Menzel play lovers, Russian Anatoly Sergievsky and American Florence Vassy, in the musical which has a book and lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. Two players in a World Chess Championship are involved in a romantic triangle with the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the characters' personalities are loosely based on those of real-life chess players Victor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer.
Chess premiered at the West End’s Prince Edward Theatre on 14 May 1986. The concept album, released in 1984 ahead of the stage show, featured Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson singing the duet “I Know Him So Well”, which reached Number One in the UK music charts.
Idina Menzel originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway and in the West End, for which she won the Tony and Whatsonstage.com Awards for Best Actress in a Musical. She also originated the role of Maureen in Rent on Broadway and starred in the film version of the musical. Her other theatre credits include Aida, The Wild Party, Hair, Summer of ‘42, See What I Wanna See and The Vagina Monologues.
Josh Groban is a critically acclaimed American singer who has been nominated for a Grammy award. He first found fame he starred and sung in an episode of US sitcom Ally McBeal in 1997 and secured a recording deal with Warner Brothers after he stood in for Andrea Bocelli to sing "The Prayer" with Celine Dion at the 1998 Grammy rehearsals. His solo records include Josh Groban, followed by Closer, Awake, and most recently a Christmas album entitled Noel. In 2003, Groban played the part of Anatoly Sergievsky in an Actors’ Fund Benefit concert of Chess.
Tim Rice has just finished writing nine songs, set to music by Tchaikovsky, for an epic film called The Nutcracker: The Untold Story, due for release this year starring Nathan Lane. His other stage musicals include his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Evita.
Presented by Heartaches Ltd in association with JGPC and The Night of 1000 Voices, the Chess concert will be modelled on the original 1984 concept album, rather than another stage production. Rice will introduce each performance. The concert will be directed by Hugh Wooldridge and choreographed by Kevan Allen, with the 50-piece City of London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Firman.
- by Tom Atkins