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Cast announced for Chess at the Coliseum

Michael Ball, Alexandra Burke and Cassidy Janson lead the cast of Chess at the London Coliseum.

The first West End production of Chess since 1986 will open at the London Coliseum on Thursday 26 April for a strictly limited five-week run.

This production marks the fourth collaboration between the English National Opera and Michael Linnet and Michael Grade, and follows huge successes Sweeney Todd, Sunset Boulevard and Carousel.

Today’s announcement sees Michael Ball – Britain’s leading musical theatre star – taking on the role of Anatoly. He is joined by West End star, singer and Strictly Come Dancing finalist Alexandra Burke as Svetlana, and Cassidy Janson – best known for playing Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre – completes the star line-up as Florence.

Others added to the company include Murray Head and Tim Howar.

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 and now takes on the role of The Arbiter.

Howar, best known as the lead vocalist with Mike + the Mechanics, previously made his West End debut in Peggy Sue Got Married. He’ll take on the role of Freddie in the new production.

Chess tells a story of love and political intrigue, set against the background of the Cold War in the late 1970s/early 1980s, in which superpowers attempt to manipulate an international chess championship for political ends.

Two of the world’s greatest chess masters, one American, one Russian, are in danger of becoming the pawns of their governments as their battle for the world title gets under way.

Simultaneously their lives are thrown into further confusion by a Hungarian refugee, a remarkable woman who becomes the centre of their emotional triangle. This mirrors the heightened passions of the political struggles that threaten to destroy lives and loves.

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, and included the international hit singles I Know Him So Well and One Night In Bangkok. Other iconic songs from the score include Anthem, Someone Else’s Story, Heaven Help my Heart and Pity The Child.

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, Les Misérables on Broadway, and the international Jesus Christ Superstar arena tour.

The return of this sensational show to the London stage is surely to be a musical theatre landmark.


Chess opens at the London Coliseum on 21 April 2018. Tickets are on sale now – get yours via Ticketmaster.co.uk.

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