Pittsburgh's Civic Light Opera, one of the nation's leading summer stock theatres, makes a key move tonight with the opening of the Benny Anderson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice musical Chess, running at the CLO's Benedum Center July 8-13.
Joseph Mahowald, currently starring on daytime TV's "Another World," plays Anatoly, the Russian chess champion who defects to the United States. Kirsti Carnahan, who originated the role of Marta in Kiss of the Spider Woman on Broadway where she also appeared in Baby and The Three Musketeers, plays the love interest caught between the Russian and American champions. Eric Kunze, who starred on Broadway in Miss Saigon, Damn Yankees and Les Miserables, plays the arrogant American opponent (who is the villain of the piece).
Chess was originally conceived by lyricist Tim Rice in 1984, who combined his talents with those of pop musicians Anderson and Ulvaeus (of the hit group ABBA), to create the score. Chess, like previous Rice projects Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, started out as a concept album and evolved into a full-fledged musical. The album, featuring songs such as "One Night in Bangkok" and "I Know Him So Well," sold over 1 million copies before the show even hit the stage.
Chess runs July 8-13. For more information about Chess or upcoming events at Civic Light Opera: (412) 456-6666.
-- By Sean McGrath