Tony Award nominees Raúl Esparza and Ramin Karimloo will join Tony Award winners Ruthie Ann Miles and Karen Olivo in a new adaptation of the Benny Andersson-Björn Ulvaeus musical Chess, which will feature an all-new adaptation by Emmy Award-winning Empire and Game Change writer Danny Strong.
Tony winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) will direct the Kennedy Center premiere that is slated to run February 14–18, 2018. Esparza (Company) and Karimloo (Anastasia) will portray American chess champion Freddie Trumper and Russian chess star Anatoly Sergievsky, respectively, with Miles (The King and I) as Svetlana Sergievsky and Olivo as Florence Vassey.
The cast will also include Bradley Dean (Dear Evan Hansen) as Ivan Molokov, Sean Allan Krill (Honeymoon in Vegas) as Walter Anderson, and Tony nominee Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) as the Arbiter.
The Kennedy Center staging of Chess is unrelated to the English National Opera’s 2018 production, which marks the first major London revival of the musical since its 1986 premiere.
Chess tells a story of love and political intrigue, set against the background of the Cold War in the late 1970s-early 1980s, in which superpowers attempt to manipulate an international chess championship for political ends.
The cast will be completed by Paige Faure, Nkrumah Gatling, Casey Garvin, Adam Halpin, Ericka Hunter, Sean MacLaughlin, Morgan Marcell, Marissa McGowan, Chelsea Turbin, Christopher Vo, Minami Yusui, and Ricardo Zayas.
The 1984 musical features music by ABBA songwriters Andersson and Ulvaeus, and lyrics by Tim Rice. The original 1986 London production of Chess ran for nearly three years in the West End. Despite a brief, two-month Broadway run in 1988, Chess has amassed a legion of fans who are drawn to its operatic rock score that features such songs as “I Know Him So Well,” “Nobody’s Side,” “Someone Else’s Story,” “Pity the Child,” and the stand-out single, “One Night in Bangkok.”
The complete creative team will be announced at a later date.