Chess in Concert -
no "pawns" in this match !
A Report on the 8/12 Concert in Nyack
This was a mixed audience. Amidst a crowd of many who knew little or nothing about Chess the musical was an excited bunch of people smiling and repeatedly saying, "This show will rock," and rock it did!
The best description of the show would be a combination rock/ Broadway theatrical "match" for the eyes and ears. When a smiling Norm Lewis (see interview) slid out to sing "The Story of Chess", we all knew we were in for a treat. Norm bounced in and out of the piece to entertain us with witty intros, just to keep us all on the same page.
The first thing to grab the audience was musical director Neil Berg's band. These people never sounded better. Like any live production, a few glitches had to be balanced out between the music and the voices, but the performance I saw on Sun. Aug. 12th had most things running in sync. Some very creative backdrop lighting and spotlighting added to the intensity or the serenity of each performer's song.
The songs themselves are a theatergoer's joy. Whether it be the tender "Mountain Duet" sung passionately by Anatoly (Robert Evan) and Florence (Lauren Kennedy) or "One Night in Bangkok" led by the Arbiter (the dynamic Danny Zolli) and company, this show had something for everyone.
Lauren Kennedy and Chess cast
The energetic ensemble, all in pop-rock black, kept us well entertained with a lively version of "Merano" and a humorous reprise of "The Story of Chess" song by the Embassy Trio. The leading ladies Florence and Svetlana (Julia Murney) were a real treat and a joy with their solos "Someone Else's Story" and "Heaven Help my Heart." What a contrast between the high energy, spunky Florence and the sweet, patient, pained Svetlana. Both ladies were remarkable.
Of course the two show stopping-numbers had to go to Rob Evan's "Anthem" and Freddie's (Brian D'Arcy James) "Pity the Child", which both drew euqally thunderous applause. Brian took this song and his entire role to a more modern climax that had the audience feeling Freddie's pain and frustration.
Guy Lemonnier (Molokov) was a newcomer to many. What an impressive mark he made with his somber baritone voice!
The audience was on its feet, feeling like they had been through an audio/visual workout. There were no pawns in this match ... only kings and queens.
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