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‘Chess’ to captivate audience with new adaptation

Special to The Prospector
“Chess The Musical” is scheduled to open at 7:30 p.m. on July 11 at the UDT stage and run until July 27.

The cast of “Chess” is ready to rock out the house on opening night July 11 at the UTEP Dinner Theatre.

“Chess The Musical” marks the final production of the season. This rock opera first hit the stage in the late ‘80s and its iconic pop hits such as “One Night in Bangkok” made the show a staple in pop culture.  UTEP’s production of the musical will be unique because it will be tied to the original production.

The original score to the musical was written by Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, who are former members of the ‘70s disco group ABBA. ABBA is known for disco hits such as “Dancing Queen” and “Mama Mia.” With these two collaborating, it is no wonder the musical had such a catchy score.

Tim Rice also collaborated as the lyricist for the production. He is best known for his award-winning work in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita,” and Disney pictures such as “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King. “

“Chess” tells the story of a love triangle between two grandmasters—one American, one Russian—and a woman that serves as a manager to one of the players but falls in love with the other. It is a story about romance, betrayal and politics. The game is a metaphor for the story behind the plot. In the game is essential to make moves strategically and competitively, which is how the plot to this rock opera unfolds.

Frank Montes de Oca III, assistant director of University Relations, said that he did a great deal of research in order to portray the Russian champion Anatoly Sergievsky as real
as possible.

“I watched many interviews and documentaries and reminisces of Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and Bobby Fischer. I also studied authentically spoken Russian accents,” he said. “I did all of this to portray as authentic a version of my character in world championship competition. I take my research seriously and believe it to be a sound foundation for my performance.”

According to Montes de Oca III, “Chess” has been revised many times and tweaked by its creators, and the UDT will be performing an updated version that was adapted by the UTD.

“This new production has elements that were part of both previous productions, but it is still wholly different,” he said.

This season’s production of “Chess” isn’t the first time the UDT will be performing the legendary musical—as it was first performed at the theater approximately two decades ago.

In 1990, UDT’s production of “Chess” was the national award winner at the American College Theatre Festival, along with other awards for: Best Show, Excellence in Set Design, Excellence in Instrumental Ensemble and Excellence in Stage
Crew Work.

The UDT’s version was also chosen as one of six productions to be performed at the American College Theatre Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Montes de Oca III was involved in the first production in 1989 as part of the ensemble.

As a sophomore and a work-study student for UDT, he assisted with making costumes and building sets for the show.

“It was quite an experience to be part of the whole process. The leads in the production were terrific mentors,” Montes de Oca III said. “I learned a great deal from them and I’m a better performer on stage today for working with them.”

Montes de Oca III hopes for the audience to be captivated by the rendition of this iconic production.

“The cast has worked hard to meet a difficult challenge that is this piece,” he said. “Tim Rice has been quoted as saying to the affect that “Chess-The Musical” is a very intricate plot. In the end I hope we all benefit from the work.”

Chess–The Musical will run at the UTEP Dinner Theatre from July 11–27. Tickets are available on UDT book office or at Ticketmaster locations. For more information call 747-6060.

Lesly Limon may be reached at [email protected].

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‘Chess’ to captivate audience with new adaptation