Two Nights in London: Starry Chess Concerts Play Royal Albert Hall

News   Two Nights in London: Starry Chess Concerts Play Royal Albert Hall
The Benny Anderson-Tim Rice-Björn Ulvaeus musical Chess plays London's Royal Albert Hall May 12-13 with a cast that boasts original Rent co-stars Idina Menzel and Adam Pascal.

Idina Menzel
Idina Menzel

Tony winner Menzel stars as Florence and Pascal as Frederick Trumper with internationally acclaimed vocalist Josh Groban as Anatoly Sergievsky, London Wicked star Kerry Ellis as Svetlana, David Bedella as Molokov, Clarke Peters as Walter and Marti Pellow as The Arbiter.

The Chess in Concert company includes Grant Anthony, Christopher Colley, Tiffany Graves, Leila Benn Harris, David Michael Johnson, Debbie Kurup, Aoife Mulholland and Tabitha Webb.

The concerts, scheduled for 8 PM, will be introduced by Chess co-creator Rice. Hugh Wooldridge, who adapted the musical for the concert, directs; David Firman conducts the orchestra.

Chess, according to press notes, "involves a romantic triangle between two players in a World Chess Championship, and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the characters' personalities are loosely based on those of Victor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer."

The Benny Anderson-Tim Rice-Björn Ulvaeus musical Chess debuted on the London stage with a cast led by Elaine Paige, Tommy Körberg and Murray Head, while the short-lived Broadway company featured Judy Kuhn, Philip Casnoff and the late David Carroll. The score includes such tunes as "Nobody's Side," "One Night in Bangkok," "Anthem," "I Know Him So Well," "Pity the Child" and "You and I." The original Broadway cast recording was released on RCA Victor. Idina Menzel won a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for her work as Elphaba in Wicked; she also opened the London production of that hit musical. Menzel created the role of Maureen in the original Broadway company of Rent, and her other theatrical credits include the City Center Encores! production of Hair, the Manhattan Theatre Club The Wild Party, the Public Theater's See What I Wanna See and the benefit Funny Girl concert. Menzel's film credits include "Ask the Dust," "Rent" and "Enchanted." Her new solo recording, "I Stand," recently arrived in stores.

Adam Pascal made his theatrical debut as Roger in the original cast of Jonathan Larson's Rent; for that performance, he received Theatre World and Obie awards as well as Tony and Drama Desk nominations. Pascal was also part of the final cast of Aida, playing the role he had created several years earlier, the ill-fated Radames. He also portrayed the Emcee in the now-closed revival of Cabaret. Pascal was a co-producer of the hit Off-Broadway play Fully Committed and appeared in the Actors' Fund benefit concerts of Chess and Hair. Pascal's two solo recordings, "Civilian" and "Model Prisoner," are available on the Sh-K-Boom label.

Kerry Ellis, who succeeded Idina Menzel as Elphaba in the London production of Wicked, portrayed Fantine in Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre and Ellen in the national tour of Miss Saigon. Ellis will make her Broadway bow in Wicked June 17.

Josh Groban starred in the Actors Fund of America's benefit concert of "Chess." His numerous recordings include "Awake," "Closer," "Josh Groban in Concert" and "Josh Groban Live at the Greek"; his newest recording is titled "Noel."

David Bedella won an Olivier Award for his role as Warm Up Man/Satan in Jerry Springer—The Opera, a performance he recently repeated at Carnegie Hall. Bedella was seen on Broadway in Smokey Joe's Cafe.

Clarke Peters' stage credits include The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Five Guys Named Mo, Mourning Becomes Electra, The Iceman Cometh and Driving Miss Daisy.

Marti Pellow, the former star of Scottish band Wet Wet Wet, made his Broadway debut in Chicago. With the pop group Wet Wet Wet, Pellow's top-ten hits include "With a Little Help from My Friends," "Goodnight Girl" and "Love Is All Around." As a solo artist, he has released the recordings "Smile" and "Between the Covers."

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