The first West End production of Chess since 1986 is to star Michael Ball and Alexandra Burke. This epic musical love story will open at the London Coliseum on Thursday 26 April 2018 (Press night on Tuesday 1 May 2018) for a strictly limited 5 week season.
This is the fourth production in collaboration with English National Opera by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade, who brought Sunset Boulevard to the London Coliseum, the home of ENO. Michael Linnit and Michael Grade also produced 42nd Street, currently playing at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
Michael Ball, will star as Anatoly. Winner of two Olivier Awards, he made his West End debut as Marius in the original London cast of Les Misérables; he starred in the West End production of The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love.
Alexandra Burke is Svetlana. In 2008 she won the fifth series of The X Factor in 2008, In 2014 she made her West End debut playing the lead role of Rachel Marron in the much acclaimed musical, The Bodyguard . In September 2017, Alexandra joined the cast of Strictly Come Dancing, reaching the final and then performed in the 4-week Strictly Come Dancing UK arena tour.
CHESS was written in 1984 by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (Mamma Mia), and Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King, Evita), and the original London production starred Elaine Paige, Murray Head and Tommy Korberg. That production, which ran for three years at the Prince Edward Theatre, followed a highly successful recording featuring the same stars.
CHESS tells a story of love and political intrigue, set against the background of the Cold War in the late 1970s/early 1980s, in which superpowers attempt to manipulate an international chess championship for political ends. Two of the world’s greatest chess masters, one American, one Russian, are in danger of becoming the pawns of their governments as their battle for the world title gets under way. Simultaneously their lives are thrown into further confusion by a Hungarian refugee, a remarkable woman who becomes the centre of their emotional triangle. This mirrors the heightened passions of the political struggles that threaten to destroy lives and loves.
The show’s reputation has never been higher; there have been countless versions produced all over the world. The return of the sensational score to the London stage is an important and exciting musical theatre landmark.