Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Euan Morton of Chess
by Nick Orlando

Euan Morton and the Chess Ensemble, including Jill Paice
Euan Morton made his Broadway debut as Boy George in Taboo, earning Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Award nominations, and winning the Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut.

In June 2010, Morton finished a run in the Broadway revue Sondheim on Sondheim opposite Vanessa Williams and Barbara Cook. He is now taking on the role of Russian chess master Anatoly Sergievsky in the 1980s rock musical Chess at the Signature Theater in Arlington, Virginia. Chess had a successful three-year run in London's West End, but the altered Broadway version closed after only two months.

Nick Orlando recently discussed this version of Chess with Morton.

Nick Orlando:  So you are back at the Signature theatre! You performed Signature's cabaret series in 2009.

Euan Morton:  I am. Well, kind of back. This is my first theatrical performance. I did perform in concerts here.

NO:   How is this version of Chess different from the other productions?

EM:  It is very different. It's a combination of the British script and the Broadway script. A lot of songs have been cut. The story is much more focused on Florence and it is a shorter show, only two hours.

NO:  Why do you think the West End audience embraced the musical more than the Broadway audience?

EM:  The Broadway show was a totally different show. The script was rewritten. When you take something that works and change the script, you are taking a risk, and that's what happened.

NO:  What do you love best about the musical?

EM:  The music, the score. I have never seen the production. I have been singing the music since I was a kid. The music is what everyone loves about this musical.

NO:  Which are your favorite songs?

EM:  "Endgame." It is such a grand musical theatre number. I love "Heaven Help My Heart." All of the music is great.

NO:  What is difficult about this score?

EM:  Rock scores are difficult in themselves. You have to find a way to sing a great rock song and tell a story.

NO:  Tell us about your character, Anatoly.

EM:  Anatoly is having an affair with Florence behind his wife's back. I've humanized him more than he has ever been before. I didn't want him to be stiff. The Russian accent is hard. I sing with the accent.

NO:  Did you learn any Russian?

EM:  Yes, I have a few Russian lines in the show. We all knew how to say swear words in Russian.

NO:  Places you've visited in Washington?

EM:  I love Washington. I've had a home here for awhile. I like the Space & Science Museum. The museums in Washington are free. I like the ESPN building and the Arlington Planetarium. I am fascinated by the universe, space and science!

NO:  What's next?

EM:  I will be doing a week of concerts at Centerstage in Baltimore. I have performed concerts there previously and loved it. They invited me back. That will be mid-October. I haven't had a holiday in quite some time, so I am going to New Orleans and would like to go home to Scotland over the Christmas holiday. My sister got married recently and had a baby. I haven't met her husband yet, either.

Chess is presented at the Signature Theatre September 26, 2010. For more information please visit

Photo: Scott Suchman

-- Nick Orlando