Chess: The Musical came to The Regent Theatre in Palmerston North during August 2012. This leading-edge presentation incorporated the original stage production of Chess with a 21st century lighting spectacular and a live orchestra. The production was a high-quality, high-energy presentation of the timeless musical, Chess.
Set in the context of the Cold War, this highly-acclaimed musical develops the ancient and distinguished game of chess into a metaphor for romantic rivalries and East-West political intrigue. Written by former ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, with lyrics by Tim Rice, this celebrated musical has numerous international number one hits such as 'One Night in Bangkok' and 'I Know Him So Well'.
The drama follows three principal pawns who form a love triangle - the loutish American grandmaster, the earnest Russian champion and the Hungarian-American female chess second, who arrives at the international championships with the American but falls for the Russian. From Italy to Thailand the players, lovers, politicians, CIA and KGB make their moves to the pulse of this monumental rock score.
"Chess: The Musical is a production that deserves all the audience the Regent on Broadway can hold... the quality of the performances of the main cast were nothing but a brilliancy" - The Tribune 22/08/2012
Actor, playing ‘The Russian grandmaster Anatoly Sergievsky’
in Chess: The Musical
Chris Crowe has a very proud theatre history in Palmerston North and Chess: The Musical will be his 11th show here. Chris is thrilled to be back in his home town to perform the role of Anatoly - a role he has coveted for many many years. It is very much a case of third time lucky for Chris who has been in the ensemble of Chess on two previous occasions, firstly for the Manawatu Theatre Society in 1994 and then for the Napier Operatic Society in 1995.
Chris was last seen as John in Miss Saigon, a gift role he was lucky enough to play in Palmerston North, Wellington and Dunedin. Other roles include: Jesus in Godspell, Judas & Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar, Enjolras in Les Miserables, again in Palmerston North and Wellington. He also may or may not have been seen as Teen Angel in Grease the Musical. In 2003 Chris was asked to join the Australian Opera Studio cast of Die Fledermaus in the role of Eisenstein at His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth.
More recently he has been involved in On Broadway and Smokey Joes Café for Marshall Stack & Co, a co-operative of musicians and performers led by talented sisters Kate and Nic Marshall.
As a soloist Chris has appeared in numerous concerts throughout New Zealand and overseas, most recently The Big Night In at the new Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, and on the 28th of July Chris will be featuring in The Magical Music of Disney, a huge concert at the CBS Arena with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
Chris is also a member of La Forza, an Australian based cosmopolitan pop vocal group who are highly sought after in the corporate market. They have recorded a self-titled album and have performed in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Fiji and Malaysia.
A special highlight in Chris’ career was singing the New Zealand National Anthem in front of 65,000 fans at the 2007 Bledisloe Cup final at Eden Park between New Zealand and Australia.
"Chris Crowe's stage presence as Sergievsky was magnificent, as was his strong and powerful voice... Crowe's voice fills The Regent on Broadway in perfect tone" - The Manawatu Standard 18/08/2012
Musical Director for Chess: The Musical
It is now some 35 years since Barry musically directed his first show, a 50 minute rock cantata, Noah and the Amazing Floating Zoo, a work composed by Barry and performed by the local church choir. Since then he has amassed a total of some 70 shows as musical director and countless more as rehearsal/production pianist!
Twenty eight years ago, Barry played piano for his first New Plymouth Operatic Society show, Oklahoma, and from 1984 through to 1997 he musically directed or played piano for every production that Society staged. Since arriving in Palmerston North in 1998, Barry has musically directed all of Abbey Musical Theatre’s Regent productions, including shows such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 42nd Street (2001 & 2011), Les Misérables, Annie, My Fair Lady, Oliver!, CATS, Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Barry has also musically directed a large number of Abbey Musical Theatre’s smaller productions including Tell Me on a Sunday, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Godspell, A Slice of Saturday Night, and Putting It Together.
Earlier this year Barry trained both a children’s choir of 55 voices and an adult choir of 40 voices to sing with New Zealand’s up and coming new talent, tenor Will Martin for the concert “From West End to Broadway”, a stunning evening of songs from the musicals, a concert that played two performances to sold out houses.
In October 2008 Barry began a new teaching job as full time Music Specialist and Performing Arts Co-ordinator at Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School, a job Barry now describes as his ‘dream job’. In 2009 under the guidance and musical direction of Barry, Palmerston North Intermediate was the first school in New Zealand to be granted performance rights to Disney’s High School Musical Jnr, and in November last year, staged the timeless classic Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jnr, a production that wowed the audiences over five performances.
Future projects for Barry include Avenue Q, Abbey Musical Theatre’s Christmas show later this year, Hairspray (2013) for Abbey Musical Theatre at the Regent, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2013) at Palmerston North Intrmal School and Phantom of the Opera in 2014.
Val AndrewActress, playing Florence in Chess: The Musical
The last time Val was seen performing for Abbey Musical Theatre was when she played the role of ‘Sally Bowles’ in the 2007 production of Cabaret. Since then she has been raising her two young children, three years of which was spent living in France due to her husband’s work. Previous onstage roles for Val include ‘Cosette’ in Les Misérables, ‘Eliza’ in My Fair Lady, ‘Miss Hannigan’ in Annie and ‘Sharon’ in A Slice of Saturday Night, to name just a few. Most recently, Val was invited to be a member of the choir performing with Will Martin at his last New Zealand concert in Palmerston North.
Without the support of her husband and children, Val would not be able to realise her love of performing. “Not a day goes by when I am not thankful for the continued love and support of Chris and our beautiful children. Thanks must also be given to Abbey Musical Theatre for giving me this opportunity. Working with a cast and production team like we have for Chess is just a dream. The dream would be complete if my family in Scotland were able to be here to see the show. I’ll share a whisky with them over Skype!”
Val is loving the challenge of playing the role of Florence Vassy and hopes you enjoy the show!
Andrew JamiesonActor, playing 'The Arbiter' in Chess: The Musical
After many years of playing in bands, AJ decided to enter the world of theatre when he was successful at his audition for Dirty Dancing in 2001. After this he caught the performing bug. AJ has enjoyed some wonderful opportunities in the roles of ‘Jesus’ in Godspell, ‘Seymour’ in Little Shop of Horrors, ‘Danny’ in Grease, ‘Munkustrap’ in CATS and as a member of the professional touring cast of Chicago. Recent highlights include roles in local productions Buddy, as ‘Richie Valens’, and Jesus Christ Superstar as ‘Judas’.
Playing ‘The Arbiter’ is a role AJ is very excited about and he is looking forward to working with such a talented cast, Director, Musical Director and production team.
“CHESS is going to be a huge spectacle – one which the region has probably never seen before. We have a stellar team and I am looking forward to being part of the CHESS experience.Thanks to Steve, Barry, Kay and Al for their support and faith in us."
"Lastly, my special thanks and love to my girls; Kelly, Aria and Kali for letting Daddy have ‘sleep ins’ and being awayfrom home.”
Director: Steve Sayer
Musical Director: Barry Jones
Choreographer: Michelle Robinson