The first West End production of Chess since 1986 is to star Michael Ball, Alexandra Burke, Murray Head, Tim Howar and Cassidy Janson.
The production will open at the London Coliseum on 26 April 2018 (press night on 1 May 2018) for a strictly limited five-week season.
This is the fourth production in collaboration with English National Opera by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade, who brought Sunset Boulevard, Carousel and Sweeney Todd to the London Coliseum, the home of ENO. Linnit and Grade also produced 42nd Street, currently playing at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
Chess was written in 1984 by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and Tim Rice and the original London production starred Elaine Paige, Murray Head and Tommy Korberg. That production, which ran for three years at the Prince Edward Theatre, followed a highly successful recording featuring the same stars.
Featuring English National Opera’s award-winning Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by John Rigby with choreography by Stephen Mear, this new West End production will be directed by Laurence Connor, whose recent credits include School of Rock and Miss Saigon on Broadway and in the West End and Les Misérables on Broadway.
Michael Ball will perform the role of Anatoly. Ball made his West End debut as Marius in the original London cast of Les Misérables and went on to star in The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, Passion and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Woman in White. In 2007 he made his debut with English National Opera as Haj/The Poet in Kismet. He has won two Olivier Awards: for his performance as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray and for the lead role in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Combined sales of his recent Together albums, recorded with Alfie Boe, are now in excess of 1 million copies.
Alexandra Burke is Svetlana. Alexandra rose to fame after winning the fifth series of The X Factor in 2008, and currently stands as one of the most successful winners of the show, selling well over 4 million records in the UK alone. In 2014 she made her West End debut playing the lead role of Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard . A UK tour followed. In 2016, Burke starred as Deloris Van Cartier in the musical Sister Act, a new production which toured the UK. In 2017, she joined the cast of Strictly Come Dancing, reaching the final.
Murray Head is most recognised for his international hits ‘Superstar’ (from Jesus Christ Superstar) and ‘One Night in Bangkok’ from Chess. He performed the role of world chess champion Frederick ‘Freddie’ Trumper in the original London West End stage production. He has also performed in Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair in the West End. He will take on the role of The Arbiter.
Singer Tim Howar is best known as the lead vocalist with Mike + the Mechanics. He made his West End debut as the male lead in Peggy Sue Got Married. He has also appeared in West End productions of Rent and Rock of Ages.
Cassidy Janson is Florence. Her most recent project was the Leading Ladies trio along with Amber Riley and Beverley Knight. Previous to this Janson played Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Other theatre credits include Dessa Rose at the Trafalgar Studios, Tick Tick Boom for the Menier Chocolate Factory, Lend Me a Tenor at the Gielgud Theatre, Company at the Southwark Playhouse and Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut in Avenue Q at the Wyndham’s Theatre. Janson was a member of the original London cast of Wicked and played standby Elphaba.