For a musical throwback Thursday I was recently reminded of this symphonic concert version of the musical Chess (penned by ABBA geniuses Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and Lloyd Webber collaborator Tim Rice).
The show used the game of chess as a metaphor for Russia/US cold war politics and “game play.”
I saw the show in London before it made the trip across the Atlantic to Broadway. I loved the show in the West End, but the version that reached New York City wasn’t the same.
The original director/choreographer, Michael Bennett, had cast and commissioned the set designs for London but then stepped away due to poor health. Trevor Nunn took over in London, but was left with Bennett’s casting choices and some concepts in place. The show ran three years in the West End.
When Nunn brought the show to New York, it underwent radical rewrites and was not well-received. The production ran about three months before closing.
But fans love the score.
This song, “Anthem,” is sung by the original star Tommy Körberg who played the Russian for the concept album and in London.
The moment comes at the end of Act One as the Russian chess player Anatoly has decided to defect from Russia. The melody, lyrics and Körberg’s spectacular voice come together perfectly.
The entire concert can be viewed below as well.