Friday, July 13, 2012

Checkmating Chess

I admit it, I was one of the nerdier ones.  I grew up playing chess and checkers and cards and word games.  I ate tuna sandwiches in my school lunch even though the other kids thought they smelled bad.  I wore glasses (big blue ones) and read books several grade levels ahead of my own.  I dissected worms in my backyard with a toy microscope I got for Christmas.

This summer, I'm combining the nerdiness of youth with my theatrical adventures... because sometimes nerds grow up.  And some of them compete in World Chess Championships. 

Chess: The Musical is not what it sounds like, however.  It's actually a commentary on the cold war and is loosely based on the true story of Bobby Fisher (whispered).  Written by Tim Rice and the guys in ABBA, Chess opened in London to mixed reviews and so underwent reconstruction to the point that when it opened on Broadway, even the ending had changed (in one version the Russians win, in the other, the Americans win - talk about your fixer-upers). 

Chess is what I would label as an opperetta in that it is almost entirely sung with minimal dialogue speckled throughout.  Produced by Austin Playhouse (running through the 22nd at Mueller) and Summer Stock Austin (August 2nd-11th at the Rollins), Chess has two runs and the latter will include fifteen teenagers.  Awesome. 

I'm just in the chorus, but since our first run (with Austin Playhouse) is in their temporary facility (a tent) whilst they wait to break ground on their new theater, I'm one of six chorus members in a cast of 12.  And for AP, twelve is pushing the limits of bodies permissible backstage.  I have been smooshed up against more people and curtains and costume racks than I care to admit trying to squeeze my way onstage.  But it's worth it.  The set is gorgous.  The woman who plays Florence (the female in our Russian/American love triangle) can sing.  And by sing, I mean si-ing.  Wowza.  Our costumes reflect the set (and the chess board) and are black and white too.  And generally short.  What is it with Austin Playhouse and me ending up in short (occasionally plastic) dresses?  I digress.  But seriously, check us out.  Super hot, right?

Photo courtesy of Christopher Loveless

That striking lady with the red hair down to her... um... cascading down her back?  That's Josie, she's the other female lead.  I know, right?  I told you, wowza.

So, if you like musicals and you like love stories and you like Chess and you like Abba (enough qualifiers for ya?) THIS IS THE MUSICAL FOR YOU!  If not, enjoy a night of culture out on the town and support your local theater arts. 

With one weekend of sold out performances gone and two more weekends to go, Austin Playhouse is offering a few discounted tickets to our added performance Wednesday, July 18th at 8pm.  Use the code "checkmate" online or when you call the box office 476-0084 and save $5.  Or, if you don't get one of those cheap(er) tickets, you can always ask for the Fan Club Discount and mention my name.  That will get you $3 off your ticket (but only if you call the box office - it won't work online!)

We're currently sold-out again tonight and tomorrow, next Thursday (the 19th) and Saturday (the 21st), but we've been getting everyone in off the waiting list so far, because for some reason, not everyone who buys a ticket shows up (one night we got in 15 people off the waiting list!).

So, buy your tickets peeps, or wait for our second run at the Rollins Theater in the Long Center.  Either way, get your game on and come hear Chess!

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