Chess, with a score by ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and EGOT winner Tim Rice, is set to play a special benefit concert December 12 at the Broadhurst Theatre, with proceeds supporting the Entertainment Community Fund. The evening is set to feature performances from Darren Criss (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) as Freddie Trumper, Tony winner Lena Hall (Hedwig, Little Shop of Horrors) as Florence Vassey, Ramin Karimloo (Funny Girl) as Anatoly Sergievsky, and Solea Pfeiffer (Almost Famous) as Svetlana Sergievsky.
But there's one person who will not be in attendance this evening: Tim Rice.
In lieu of being in the audience, three-time Tony winner Rice has penned a letter to the cast, crew, and audience of the concert, reflecting on the musical's rocky beginning, the fans that have kept it alive ever since, and the possibility of upcoming plans.
"It’s terrific to be able to welcome the return of Chess to Broadway. Admittedly only for one night, but then the previous incarnation of the musical here in 1988 didn’t run for much longer. However, the work refuses to go away and after hundreds of productions great and small around the globe (including many in the United States) since it first appeared on record in 1984, maybe the time is right for a return to Broadway.
"I’m very happy that this performance will be in support of the Entertainment Community Fund whose work has been crucial to the lives of those working in the performing arts since 1882.
"We are honored by the involvement of the distinguished actors and other creative forces in tonight’s show. This concert version with a new book by Danny Strong, directed by Michael Mayer, and under the production guidance of Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman is an exciting fresh interpretation of the work which the authors are delighted to see gracing the Broadhurst Theatre. Who knows what moves lie ahead?"
Rice's remarks are not the only time he's recently spoken of the possibility of a Broadway return for the musical; speaking on a podcast earlier this year, Rice revealed that "a team is in place" to mount a revised version on the Main Stem. This developing revival would likely use the same Danny Strong-revised book, which debuted with a 2018 production at Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, being used in tonight's benefit concert.
Chess—a love story set against the Cold War chess battles between the United States and Russia—debuted in 1986 on the London stage with a cast led by Elaine Paige, Tommy Körberg, and Murray Head, while the Broadway company featured Judy Kuhn, Philip Casnoff, and the late David Carroll. The score includes such tunes as “Nobody’s Side,” “One Night in Bangkok,” “Anthem,” “I Know Him So Well,” “Pity the Child,” and “You and I.” The original Broadway cast recording was released on RCA Victor.
In 2003 The Entertainment Community Fund (then the Actors Fund) presented a benefit concert of Chess starring Julia Murney, Adam Pascal, Norm Lewis, Josh Groban, and more.
For tickets visit EntertainmentCommunity.org/Chess.