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NODA Review – 2018 Chess

Chess – 25th April 2018 – Manx Operatic Society – Gaiety Theatre – Isle of Man


Director – Anthony Stone

Musical Director – Jane Quayle

Choreographer – Anthony Stone

Report Author: Eddie Regan

Tim Rice was interested in the rivalry between Boris Spassky, U.S.S.R and Bobby Fischer U.S.A., both Chess champions, who were to play in the 1972 World Championships and he believed it could be the basis of a new musical. It was some years later that together with Benny Anderson and          Bjorn Ulvaeus the belief became reality. In the 1980’s Rice believed that Chess addressed and satirized the hostility of the international political atmosphere of that time. He collaborated with Anderson and Ulvaeus and between them a story-line, lyrics and music were written to illustrate the tensions of the “ Cold War “. In 1984 a cast album was produced and sold worldwide.

Manx Operatic Society had once again invited the experienced and talented Anthony Williams to be their Director and Choreographer and one of their three Presidents, Marilyn Mawdsley to be Assistant Director.

The wonderful curtains of The Gaiety Theatre opened to reveal a dramatic set as the Orchestra began to play the opening music.

We were enthralled from beginning to end as this emotionally charged musical, was performed by this very talented company.

Jane Quayle, Musical Director had clearly worked tirelessly to produce the high standards of vocals, not only with the Principals but also with the Ensemble and the Pop Choir. The twelve-piece orchestra, under the baton of Julian Power B.E.M., were excellent. This is not an easy score but these musicians were the perfect foil for those on stage.

Such was the high standard I am loathe to mention individuals but it would be remiss of me not to comment on the four principal characters.Kathryn Toohey, Florence, Damien Kneale, Freddie, Alex Toohey, Anatoly and Sarah Elder, Svetlana would have graced any West End stage.

Kirsty Sparks had choreographed the beautiful Chess ballet sequences sensitively performed by the four talented young dancers.

The dramatic set design and construction were excellent and congratulations must go to the Manx Workshop for the Disabled, for their professional services, whilst building the set. Graphics were a joy to behold and Lighting and Sound first class. The Wardrobe Department had excelled and a strong backstage team, were kept busy with the many costume changes. Backstage Crew under the Direction of Nick Schofield ensured slick and seamless scene changes.                                                               You must realize, from my comments, that I was so impressed with this Production. This accomplished company has, once again, shown the depth of talent, present in the Isle of Man. Congratulation to all involved.