Fans of the cult musical Chess have reason to rejoice. Lyricist Tim Rice is working on bringing the rock opera back to Broadway for a "probable" fall-winter opening in the 2000-2001 season.
According to a production spokesperson at Rice's Heartaches company in London, Rice has completed some alterations on the piece with one of the composers, Bjorn Ulvaeus, and is in talks with the Shubert Organization to bring the musical back to New York. Should the Broadway production be a hit this second time around, Chess will also tour again following the New York opening.
After an original success in London, Chess, a Cold War story of love and betrayal set against a Russian versus American chess match, opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on April 28, 1988. It closed June 25 that same year after trouble between its director Trevor Nunn and lyricist Tim Rice (Aida, Evita) and critical pans. Subsequent revivals and concert versions have been done since, often changing the plotting, cutting parts of the book, rearranging and reassigning the songs. Since its first incarnation as a "concept album" in 1984, Chess has obtained cult status, rivaling perhaps only Carrie in obsessive fans.
Written by Rice and ABBA's songwriting team, Benny Andersson and Ulvaeus, Chess includes "One Night in Bangkok," "Heaven Help My Heart, "I Know Him So Well," "Pity the Child" and "Anthem."
Chess would mark a second ABBA project planned for Broadway's 2000-2001 season. The musical Mama Mia, featuring some of the Swedish group's greatest hits, may also land on the Great White Way that season. -- By Christine Ehren