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Chess (2003)

Video  -  Musical  -  14 November 2003 (Sweden)
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The Soviet chess player Anatolij meets the American chess player Freddie in Italy where a grand chess championship is held. There, their pasts and love affairs starts to affect the competition, forcing them to face their inner feelings.



(book), (translation), 1 more credit »
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Title: Chess (Video 2003)

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Cast overview:
Tommy Körberg ...
Anatolij Sergievskij
Helen Sjöholm ...
Florence Vaszi
Anders Ekborg ...
Josefin Nilsson ...
Per Myrberg ...
Rolf Skoglund ...


The Soviet chess player Anatolij meets the American chess player Freddie in Italy where a grand chess championship is held. There, their pasts and love affairs starts to affect the competition, forcing them to face their inner feelings.

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14 November 2003 (Sweden)  »

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Did You Know?


Tommy Körberg, who plays Anatoly here, originated the role on the 1984 concept album and on stage in the 1986 production directed by Trevor Nunn. See more »


Version of Great Performances: Chess in Concert (2009) See more »


Glöm mig om du kan
Performed by Per Myberg
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User Reviews

Fascinating production of a brilliant musical
18 September 2004 | by (Tabernacle, NJ) – See all my reviews

Chess has a long and storied history, from the megahit concept album before the work ever appeared on stage, to would-be director Michael Bennett's withdrawal from the creative process five months before the London show was set to debut and Trevor Nunn's dramatic rescue of the show, to Nunn's Broadway flop and the dozen or so subsequent attempts to "fix" the show. This is, in a way, the latest of those.

The first act of the Stockholm Chess is a marvel to behold. It sets up its players in clever fashion, first bringing in dignified but discontent Anatoly (Körberg), trapped in a marriage and a state he wants little of, as we see in his relations with wife Svetlana (Nilsson) and keeper Molokov (Myrberg). Then the headstrong, brash American Freddie (Ekborg) and his long-suffering second (coach and assistant) Florence (Sjöholm) are shown as Florence has reached her breaking point with Freddie. Last, the weird comic arbiter of the match (Skoglund) is brought into the fray. After the first match, Freddie storms out; this leads to a debate and later Florence, at her wits' end, meeting with Anatoly - who defects and starts hints of a romance with Florence. The first act flows with beautiful logic, more so than any other version of Chess.

Sadly, the second act doesn't hold up half as well. It has wonderful moments, but a lot of it is just overkill (an argument between Anatoly and Svetlana uses the music that was in the original the climactic chess match) or songs for the sake of songs (Sjöholm's wonderful "Om han var här" - "Heaven Help My Heart" - is rendered almost random by lack of context). There is no single line of tension in the second act, and it goes through the songs until coming to the epilogue without any satisfactory climax. The plot, which had been so tightly wound, now disappears into the ether.

The physical production, though, is magnificent, allowing the show to capture both massive moments (a memory-recreation of the 1956 uprising in Budapest, when Florence's father was taken from her) and tender (the mixing of a lovely duet between Florence and Anatoly in the second act with an astounding, romantic trapeze act) with equal skill. Robin Wagner's genius has not dimmed a bit over the years, and there is no scene that does not have a set to fit.

The acting and singing are a mixed bag. Tommy Körberg has been playing Anatoly since before he was called Anatoly, and is still just as good at it - as good in 2003 as he was in 1986. The music suits his unique voice, and he is a strong center of the show. He is more than matched by Helen Sjöholm, who inhabits Florence as completely as I've seen any actress do it.

Her performance ranges from angry to sensual to passionate to ironic to tender, and captures every emotion (and all in between) with skill and style.

Anders Ekborg would never be mistaken for an American on the street, but he plays the ugly American (as Freddie is written here) with panache, and uses his solo to make him sympathetic. Josefin Nilsson is less fortunate as Svetlana, playing her over the top and dislike able in a very diva-esque way.

Per Myrberg is a consummate actor who takes a part that is all too often handled as a comic stage Russian and turns it into a fierce, formidable villain. Rolf Skoglund as the arbiter - usually a role handled fiercely as the straight man - tries to play it up as a comic actor, but between his unfortunate French stereotype and his awful singing voice is completely wrong for the part.

Much of the appeal of Chess is the music, and some of the best of it is here - I don't know that anybody can beat Helen Sjöholm's "Lämna inga dörrar på glänt" ("Nobody's Side"). All of it is a joy to hear (except for Skoglund's singing), and the orchestrations haven't been this good since the original London production.

If the second act were as good as the first, this would be the best production of Chess to date. As it stands, it's certainly a very good one, but not the ultimate Chess some hoped it would be.

[Note: The show is in Swedish and the DVD that is available lacks subtitles.]

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