The Production Company’s ‘CHESS: The Musical’

A national Chess tournament may not seem like the likely place for an epic love tale to coincide with a political conflict between U.S.A and Russia during the Cold War, but along with help of renowned lyricist Tim Rice, ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus orchestrate the music to depict this story perfectly.

Just off an extremely successful run of The Producers, The Production Companies Gale Edwards directs this musical masterpiece at Melbourne’s State Theatre at the Arts Center. Gale along with musical director David Piper and choreographer Tony Bartuccio, join together and create an unforgettable evening for the whole family.

The story starts with the stage being revealed to see a giant checker board as almost the whole stage. We then get introduced to the massively talented ensemble who, throughout the show, provide indescribable harmonies and an incredible backbone for the whole show. If the ensemble was anything to go by for the quality of the show it was clear that we were going to be in for a treat.

We first off get introduced to the Chess referee, and more or less narrator for the show, The Arbiter, portrayed by Michael Falzon. To say that Michael nailed the role would be a gross understatement. Michaels rock tenor voice is one of the better voices heard on any theatre within Victoria. As the story is set we get introduced to the brutish stereotypical loud American Freddie (Martin Crewes), the current world champion, and his coach, or “second”, Florence (Silvie Paladino).

Martin’s borderline ridiculously high notes, for those who have some music knowledge of C#, brings the house down. On top of this Martin brings some of the strongest acting to the cast. The power house voice of Silvie is the highlight of the show. Her voice, perfect for the role, nails numerous ballad after ballad. On Silvie’s performance alone this show is a success.

As the story progresses we get introduced to Anatoly (Simon Gleeson), the challenger of Freddie. As one of the most acclaimed performers in the cast, Simon delivers a flawless performance, with vocals that can only be described as deep velvet. The ease in which Simon delivers this character shows the true performer that he is.

Throughout the story we see characters develop and the story, although lacking severe depth, progress to what is one of the best musical scores ever heard. Supporting roles by Alinta Chidzey, Mark Dickinson and Bert LaBonte round off this wonderful production to make the best night for music heard on a stage in Melbourne for a long time.

Although the story lacks a bit of substance the standing ovation given by chairman of The Production Companies Jeanne Pratt, said it all. One of the outstanding performances of the year.

Andrew Dempster

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