With music by ABBA's Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tim Rice, Chess — featuring such tunes as "Heaven Help My Heart," "Nobody's Side," "One Night in Bangkok," "Anthem," "I Know Him So Well," "Pity the Child" and "You and I" — will be presented in a semi-staged concert at 7:30 PM. Peter Flynn directs and Christopher Gattelli choreographs the musical, which concerns a chess match between an American and Russian competitor, set against the politics of the Cold War. Seth Rudetsky is the evening's musical director and artistic producer.
Julia Murney — of The Wild Party fame — heads the cast as Florence, the American chess player's assistant who falls for the Russian competitor. Murney recently spoke with Playbill On-Line about the annual fundraising concert. "It is constantly astounding to think that all of this is done by volunteered time," said the actress. "I think it's a 53-voice choir on stage. There are maybe 20 dancers . . . they're doing serious stuff, dancers who are in Movin' Out. And, then there's the orchestra. It's really overwhelming."
The rest of the starry cast includes Adam Pascal as the American chess player, Josh Groban as the Russian, Raul Esparza as the Arbiter, Norm Lewis as Molokov, Jonathan Dokuchitz as Walter and Tony Award winner Sutton Foster as the Russian's wife, Svetlana.
A choir, comprised of a host of Broadway talents, will include Meredith Aikins, Yassmine Alers, Albert Altovilla, Kim Alvarez, Farah Alvin, Carrie Ellen Austin, David Barrus, Kristine Bendul, Stephen Bienskie, John Bolton, Jerad Bortz, Kevin Bott, Stacey Lynn Brass, Rachel Bress, Ed Carlo, Lou I. Castro, Lanene Charters, Katherine Lynne Condit, Tim Cross, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Justin Daniel, Ryan Dietz, John Tracey Egan, Markeisha Ensley, Mary Faber, Phil Fabry, Barrett Foa, Susan Fulginiti, Laurie Gamache, Julie Garnyé, Tanesha Gary-Stickney, Chris Ghelfi, Brian M. Golub, Sue Goodman, Ann Harada, Nina Hennessey, Stephen Alexander Horst, Mary Ann Hu, Cristin Hubbard, William Hubert, Adam Hunter, Jessica Jackson, Gerti James, Natalie Joy Johnson, Naomi Kakuk, Raissa Katona, Damian Keenan, Trent Armand Kendal, Michael Klimzak, Audrey Klinger, Lynette Knapp, David Ladd, Anika Larsen, Jason S. Little, Kristoffer Lowe, David McKeown, Naomi Naughton, Darius Nichols, Terri O'Neill, Amanda Ryan Paige, Max Pearlman, David Petrolle, William Ryall, Charlie Schwartz, Nicole Ruth Snelson, Doug Storm, Eileen Tepper, Shelley Thomas, Grant Turner, Richard E. Waits, Jessica Walker, Nyjah Moore Westbrooks, Jason Weston, Schele Williams, Gustavo Wons, Wysandria Woolsey, Matt Zarley, Kristine Zbornik and Christopher Zelno.
The concert's creative team features Paul Weimer (scenic designer), Jeff Croiter (lighting designer), Cynthia J. Hawkins (sound designer), Michael Growler (costume coordinator), Sherry Cohen (production stage manager) and Tim Pinckney (concert adaptation). Chess marks the third benefit concert for the Actors' Fund. The series began with a Dreamgirls concert featuring the talents of Lillias White, Heather Headley and Audra McDonald. Last year’s Funny Girl concert boasted a slew of Fanny Brices, including Carolee Carmello, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Ana Gasteyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Spencer Kayden, Jane Krakowski, Judy Kuhn, La Chanze, Ricki Lake, Andrea Martin, Idina Menzel, Julia Murney, Bebe Neuwirth and Lillias White.
Chess began life as a two-LP recording in 1984 and debuted on the London stage with a cast led by Elaine Paige, Tommy Körberg and Murray Head. The subsequent Broadway company featured Judy Kuhn, Philip Casnoff and the late David Carroll. The original Broadway cast recording was released on RCA Victor.
Tickets for the Chess concert are available by calling (212) 221 7300, ext. 133. For more information, go to www.actorsfund.org.
The Actors' Fund of America, a nonprofit organization founded in 1882, provides for the social welfare of all entertainment professionals. Its headquarters and The Aurora Residence are located in New York City, and its nursing home and assisted living care facility are in Englewood, New Jersey.