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June 4th, 2009
Chess in Concert
Preview of Chess in Concert

Wicked’s Idina Menzel and Rent’s Adam Pascal join Great Performances favorite, internationally renowned vocalist Josh Groban in a spectacular London concert revival of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ 1986 cult musical Chess, premiering Wednesday, June 17 at 9 p.m. (ET) on Great Performances (check local listings). Presented by THIRTEEN in 5.1 digital surround sound on PBS HD, and featuring diamond-sharp lyrics by Tim Rice (Evita, The Lion King), the hit-filled production (“One Night in Bangkok,” “I Know Him So Well,” “The Anthem”) was recorded in performance at Royal Albert Hall.

Watch a preview:

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Great Performances is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

“A fantastic night” proclaimed musiccomh.com, while thestage.co asked “Is there an original pop musical stuffed with better melodies?” neatly echoing Time’s initial 1988 assessment: “One of the best rock scores ever produced.” Adding to the excitement is the 50-piece City of London Philharmonic, led by David Firman, and the 100-voice West End Chorus.

ABBA composers Andersson and Ulvaeus created their first musical theater work more than a decade before striking pay dirt with their phenomenon, Mamma Mia. It was the inspired idea of lyricist/librettist Rice to match the pair with his cold war tale: the East/West Chess Championship and the romantic triangle that develops between the Russian and American competitors and the beautiful woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Chart topper Groban (Awake, Closer, Noel) sings the Russian player, Anatoly; Rent Tony and Drama Desk Award-nominee Pascal is the American Freddie, and Tony-winner Menzel (Wicked Witch Elphaba) is Florence, the woman between them.

Chess in Concert is a co-production of THIRTEEN, Reprise Records and Peppermint Pictures, in association with Heartaches Ltd. Directed for telecast by David Horn and produced by Austin Shaw, it was recorded at Albert Hall May 12, 2008. Hugh Wooldridge staged the concert adaptation.

Josh Groban includes among his many Great Performances appearances Josh Groban in Concert (2002), Josh Groban at the Greek (2004) and last December’s David Foster & Friends. Adam Pascal was most recently seen in the series’ My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs (2001). Chess in Concert marks Idina Menzel’s Great Performances debut.

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS.

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21 comments

#1

[...] June 4th, 2009 Chess in Concert Preview of Chess in Concert [...]

#2

I am so excited; along with other Josh Groban fans, to see this on the 17th!

#3

I was there, what a marvellous show. The venue alone is absolutely breathtaking. If only PBS or the BBC could broadcast it in HighDef ….

#4

I’ve had the CD recording for ages, but I’ve always wanted to see the show “staged” - thanks to PBS for finally fulfilling my wish!

#5

I have waited a long time for this truly great performance!

#6

A wonderful concert with Josh at his finest. Was there both nights. Chess has certainly evolved a great deal deal in its 21 years.!

#7

Brilliant concert, but why are Marti Pellow and Kerry Ellis forgotten here??? They gave absolutely stunning performances, better than Adam and Idina imho. And why can the BBC not air it on the same date? Not impressed!

#8

CANNOT WAIT! - I was there on 12th and it was the first time seeing Idina live…It was a night I will NEVER forget! And now I can remember it all! Yeeey! I call for a BBC Broadcast!!!

#9

It doesn’t seem to be playing on the central coast of california (KCET). I’m really bummed.

#10

I have waited years for this. Over the years, I have seen Chess the musical three times. But this is big because Tim Rice says that this concert represents the canon of Chess.

#11

Looking forward to seeing this performance, and Adam Pascal in particular.

#12

What a great cast! I especially like Adam Pascal as Freddie in this clip.

#13

[...] IN CONCERT + INTERVIEW. 9 06 2009 CHESS IN CONCERT INTERVIEW WITH [...]

#14

THE MUSICOF CHESS IS SO INCREDIBLE AND IT’S ABOUT TIME IT IS BEING RECOGNIZED. JOSH’S SINGING IS AWESOME; HOWEVER, HE REALLY NEEDS TO TAKE SOME COURSES IN ACTING IF HE TRULY WANTS TO CONSIDER THIS AS PART OF HIS TALENT. HIS SINGING IS NATURAL,ORGANIC AND SO OUTSTANDING, BUT HIS ACTING NEEDS TO BE DEVELOPED AND NEEDS ALOT OF WORK. THE ENTIRE CAST WAS INCREDIBLE; THANKS PBS FOR GIVING US THIS WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO SEE AND HEAR CHESS.

#15

Want to know why there is no time for it playing on the west coast?

#16

Squee!!!!! I’ve been singing along with the record, then the tape, then the CD of this musical since I was way too small to understand the story and I can’t wait to see it. I’m in Canada and get my PBS from Boston and Seattle, but I have no idea what zip codes to enter. Can anyone tell me what times it’s on? From here I’m going to see if I can find the individual websites.

#17

In the West coast, it will be shown on KQED, KQED-HD & KQED-SD on 6/18 @ 8:00 PM PDT. To be safe, I would check both 6/17 and 6/18. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/schedule/

#18

I was another fortunate one that was there on the 13th. To say it was amazing is certainly an understatement.

I’m a huuuggge Josh fan, and he was definitely the highlight for us - along with Adam. It was so exciting not only to be in such an historic theater as the Royal Albert Hall, but to enjoy the talents of everyone on that stage.

I’m just sorry that no mention is made of Kerri Ellis in any of the promos. She was spectacular and to some of us was the best of the girls.

It will be such a treat to see this on PBS and evetually be able to get the CD/DVD. If you can avoid it, don’t miss it!

#19

[...] were recorded and in the United States, will be shown as part of the PBS series, “Great Performances” that will be airing this month across the United States. Additionally both a DVD of the show [...]

#20

[...] The theater major (read: geek) in me will be watching Chess in Concert on PBS this Wednesday. Starring Josh Groban and Idina [...]

#21

I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I am to see this left off the KCET Los Angeles schedule. How ridiculous that the second largest PBS market in the country won’t be airing this along with the rest of the country.

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