If you love musicals, you might already know that this one’s a classic with West End and Broadway heritage, and a successful double LP too. Brought to life at the Bentley Music Academy, this particular staging of Chess – The Musical features a cast of talented students, who perform under the watchful gaze of Director Peter Cousens and Conductor Kevin Field.
Cousens is an esteemed figure on the Australian entertainment scene, and Field is a vastly experienced maestro who is currently stationed as Director of Academic and Artistic Development at Bentley Music Academy. Skilled voice coach Nicole Thomson meanwhile ensures that the singing is on point.
Looking at the Cold War through the allegory of an American-Soviet chess rivalry, Chess features the music of ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and lyrics by the latter and Sir Timothy Miles Bindon Rice, more commonly known as Tim Rice.
The musical itself is to a degree based on the real-life rivalry between two chess greats of yesteryear – the late Bobby Fischer of the USA and Boris Spassky of the USSR. In what has been called the ‘Match of the Century’, the two battled it out for the 1972 World Chess Championship title in Iceland. The drawn-out match featured several games of tactical ingenuity and dramatic twists, making it the perfect symbolism for the Cold War. Many saw it that way, thus turning it into a landmark event, and the players into instant celebrities.
Placing The Pieces
Songs like One Night in Bangkok, The Arbiter and other Chess specials knit the intriguing story together, each adding pomp and depth at the right points. Performed by over 70 musicians, including students from Malaysia and the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music, as well as Orkestra RTM members, this presentation is tipped to blow minds.
Efforts building up to this production have even caught the eye of none other than Rice himself, who reached out to Field. “On behalf of Benny, Bjorn and myself, I send you best wishes for successful performances, which I am more than confident will occur. Chess is one of my favourite scores (of the works with which I have been involved) and I am delighted to know that it will be heard in Malaysia thanks to two excellent music combos,” he wrote, referring to the promising Malaysian-Australian collaboration.
Chess – The Musical
WHERE Wisma Bentley Music, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya
WHEN 8pm (17 & 18 Jan), 3pm (18 & 19 Jan)
TEL 03 7727 3333