Sunday, July 10, 2011

One Night in Memphis

The cover of the souvenir playbill from 1993
The year was 1993, and Memphis in May International Festival, Inc. mass mailed fliers to Memphis area USCF chess players introducing the Germantown High School's production of CHESS performed at the Poplar Pike PlayhouseMike Barton, the 1993 Memphis Chess Club president, and I decided we would attend one of the shows, in which we did, and it was a night to remember.  Well, the subject of the musical was chess, and somehow I would have felt guilty if allowing this opportunity to pass me by.  I was also curious about what exactly happened that One Night in Bannock.  Mike, having experience with Broadway productions, was not very impressed, but it was one of the best stage performances I had ever seen.

The play, according to the Germantown High School Department of Fine Arts flier, "is about an international chess match between the American and Soviet Champions.  Set during the Cold War, the story evolves into a highly dramatic tale of love and international intrigue.  The score has a refreshing mix of modern musical styles.  Classical tunes, beautiful ballads, and energetic, contemporary rock music, including the hit single, One Night in Bannock, combine to create a memorable musical experience."

The first theatrical production was performed in London, beginning in 1986 and continued there for three years while its Broadway counterpart, here in America, lasted only a couple of months.  Since then there have been many altered versions having made their appearance over the years, with the greatest revival having started in 2010.  There was a chance to see the latest adaptation of CHESS.  It was presented at the Princess of Wales Theater, 300 King Street West Toronto, Ontario, September–October 2011. 

Chess was based on an idea by Tim Rice, the book by Richard Neslon, with music by Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, and lyrics by Tim RiceClick here for more from the 1993 playbill and its contents, which includes the names of the local actors etc.:

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