A decade after the Irving Stage Company first braved the skimpy outfits, explosive ballads and Russian accents of Chess the musical, the group has taken on the challenge for a second time.
Directed by Sian Couture, the production got off to a flying start last night (Tuesday) as it opened at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.
Set during the Cold War, the musical tells the story of Anatoly Sergievsky (Ben Child) and Freddie Trumper (Glen Conner) – chess players from Russia and the USA – who battle it out for the title of chess champion.
But throw in two rather complicated love triangles, a scheming television broadcaster and the political climate in which it is set, and it’s no surprise that the musical soon becomes one of high emotion and energy.
With music written by ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tim Rice, the show blends fun and colour with darkness and desperation.
The talented cast fill the challenging roles well, with the male and female chorus members adding the dancing, humour and pizazz that’s needed to bring the whole production together.
While there are strong performances by all, it is the female lead characters of Florence and Svetlana, played by Anna Damigella and Anna Sutton respectively, that shine through.
Tasked with performing high-emotion scenes while hitting all the high notes, the women never stray from their characters and make the demanding roles look easy.
The play runs every night this week until Saturday. To buy tickets, visit www.theatreroyal.org/shows/chess-the-musical/