“Anyone mounting a production of Chess should not be afraid of making cuts or of changing the order of some of the songs and scenes. In particular, reference to the original recording of the work . . . may inspire some alternate approaches to the [1993 published version].” Tim Rice, 1993
A few years after the release of the concept album, a West End production opened and ran for 3 years (1986-89)! While this version is what many groups continue to base their productions on, including our own at UCI, others have also attempted to rework the show completely, like in the 1988 Broadway production, which drastically changed the story, character arcs, settings, and order of songs, as well as adding a substantial amount of dialogue.
Since the late 80s, there have been various touring, concert, and regional productions of the show in the US and abroad. And, with Rice’s blessing, quoted above, each production becomes a new opportunity to explore the rich and complex material of the show and its musical score.
PS Can’t get enough of Chess? In an interview with Tim Rice in June 2017, Rice revealed plans for a reworked Broadway revival in 2018!
Check out some clips from major versions and popular renditions below!
The music video for “One Night in Bangkok,” with Murray Head of the original concept album cast.
Adam Pascal, “One Night in Bangkok” (2008 London concert)
Raul Esparza, “The Arbiter” (2003 Actors Fund of America Benefit Concert)
Idina Menzel, “Heaven Help My Heart” (from Menzel’s 2011 “Barefoot at the Symphony” Tour)
Lea Salonga, “Someone Else’s Story” (from Salonga’s 2000 “The Broadway Concert” in Manila)
Kerry Ellis, “Nobody’s Side” (from the 2010 “Night of 1000 Voices” concert at Royal Albert Hall)