Chess - September 12, 2012 (Göteborgsoperan, Gothenburg)


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Cast:
Anatolij - Philip Jalmelid
Freddie - Christopher Wollter
Florence - Evelyn Jons
Svetlana - Nina Pressing
Molokov - Johan Schinkler
Domaren (=The Arbiter) - Henrik & Magnus Rongedal

On September 12 I finally got to see Chess! Chess was possibly the very first musical I ever listened to, and I have wanted to see it live for many years. I'm still grumpy I didn't get to see it when it was first made in Swedish back in 2002. I do have the dvd and have watched it many times, so of course I was happy to learn Chess was coming back to the Swedish stage - this time in Gothenburg.

Philip Jalmelid, who played Anatolij I saw in Deccember as Marius in Les Misérables, Evelyn Johns (Florence) I saw in Cats in 2006 and Christopher Wollter (Freddie) I've seen on TV, while Nina Pressing (Svetlana) was new to me. Philip was without a doubt the true star of this! Such an amazing talent! Great voice and great acting. He did play the part differently than Tommy Körberg (who did the part both in the original London production and the previous Swedish production) but the truth is Philip was even better. I have no doubt he will be the next BIG musical star in Sweden.

The role of the Arbiter was changed a bit in this version...it is actually played by twins - Henrik and Magnus Rongedal. They are famous singers in Sweden and did a really nice job! I think I expected the role to be a bit different than it was since there was a lot of talk about the Arbiter's "split personality", but they are really just two people playing the same part on stage together. They were good though! Also liked Johan Schinkler as Molotov. Very powerful voice!

There were lots of other changes in this version. The style was rather modern and comic-bookish, with the building being with several floors (all visable at the same time, kind of like a doll house), and all props were made out of cardboard (it seemed) - suitcases, rifles, glasses -you name it! Apparantly this was made to appeal to a younger audience. Personally I found it rather distracting, I would have perferred real props.

There were also some changes in the lyrics, both big changes and small changes. I think one song seemed compleatly new (both music and lyrics) but could be that it's from another version I'm not famliar with.

There are two (or three) kids in Chess, and their parts have really gotten bigger. The son of Anatolij and Svetlana (a part shared by three boys) has only one line (I think?) but appears in several scenes. The same boy also plays Freddie as a child, which got a little confusing. Then there's Florence as a child (shared by three girls) which was a rather dramatic role, especially when we see little Florence walk around stage running into various strange people, and later being protected by adult Florence. (Intresting that the only person who is nice to little Florence in that scene is (adult) Anatolij). There is also a dark scene where little Florence sees her father taken away. The little girl who played the part did an awesome job, but in that scene she wasn't able to close the door, but the great ensemble who played the soldiers made that work anyway (as they instead of knocking on the door they instead sneaked in to the apartment to get the father). The ensemble really was awesome! Some familiar faces, like talented Karolina Krigsman whom I've seen in Cats (3 times) before!

I really enjoyed seeing Chess! It was a wonderful production and it's a really great musical! I love that the characters are so much more complicated than in other musicals. They all appear to have both good and bad sides which makes the story much more interesting. Looking forward to seeing Chess again in December!


Programs:
(There were two different covers - one with Philip and one with Christopher (the cover photo is the only difference)

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