Don’t Cry for Me, Master Chief….
The following is an editorial I wrote for a GameSquad.com. It explores how Tim Rice's Chess in Concert is a good example of how to incorporate a popular game into big screen entertainment.
I had a nice surprise the other day. In an effort to fill a hole in my NetFlix queue, I added the DVD of the recent live performance of Chess in Concert. Tim Rice, the Tony Award winning producer of many famous musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, originally launched Chess in 1986. While it was a success in England, the American production floundered and closed after a mere two months due to a variety of reasons, including a revamped, dialogue-heavy script that fell flat with critics.
Briefly, Chess is about the rivalry of two chess players, American Frederick Trumper and Soviet Anatoly Sergievsky, as they struggle for the 1979 chess championship. Adding a decidedly personal note to the struggle is the development of a love triangle that involves the two competitors and Florence Vassy, Trumper’s female manager. Very loosely based upon the (in)famous Spassky – Fischer match (albeit, Sergievsky’s character was based on GM Victor Korchnoi ), the plot of Chess is a fictionalized look at the multi-dimensional pressures associated with playing the Royal Game at the highest levels.
Even though I am a devoted chess player, I was not too optimistic when the DVD arrived. It wasn’t just because of the poor reception this musical received in the States many years ago, but also due to my cynicism as a gamer. Sure, chess has fared better than most games when it comes to popular entertainment conversions (Searching for Bobby Fischer and the classic Seventh Seal quickly come to mind) , but…a musical? Oh sure, I’ve heard this production’s classic ‘80’s hit One Night in Bangkok, but the idea of building a fully fledged musical around a board game theme seemed quixotic. Could it be done?
You can read the rest here.