EWP Chess_Ensemble

The Story of CHESS scene in the East West Players production of CHESS (L-R): Cesar Cipriano, Justin Vasquez, Stephanie Mieko Cohen, Maegan McConnell, DT Matias, Alex Sanchez, Shay Louise, Michael A. Henry. Photo by Michael Lamont.

East West Players reports an overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic response with preview audiences for the musical CHESS. EWP is producing the UK Version of the cult-favorite musical.

“Our surveys and informal conversations with audience members, subscribers and donors are telling me that America is multi-racial, and all theatres should recognize our evolving environment and reflect it on stage,” says Tim Dang, EWP Producing Artistic Director and CHESS director. “If other theaters think that diversity onstage will lose audiences, they are wrong. In fact, we are experiencing an incredible amount of first timers to our theater – that translates to new audiences.

If other theaters think that diversity will lower the caliber of artistic talent, they are absolutely wrong. Audiences are raving about the incredible performers onstage. Talent exists in all communities if you give them access to auditions. From our recent auditions for CHESS for a multi-cultural cast, the talent was phenomenal. Audiences are also excited to experience CHESS, since it is so rarely done in full theatrical form.”

Book by Richard Nelson, lyrics by Sir Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Aida), and composed by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (ABBA, Mamma Mia!). CHESS is directed by Tim Dang, musical directed by Marc Macalintal and choreographed by Marc Oka.

The leading roles of the multicultural ensemble cast include Joan Almedilla as Florence (Miss Saigon and Les Miserables – Broadway), Elijah Rock as Anatoly (Ragtime, Smokey Joe’s Cafe), Victor E. Chan as Freddy (The Who’s Tommy, The Rocky Horror Show), Carey Rebecca Brown as Svetlana (Ragtime – Broadway Revival, Candide – New York City Opera), Ray A. Rochelle as Molokov (Evita, Miss Saigon), and Michael Alexander Henry as Walter de Courcey (The Lion King – Broadway), and Ryan Castellino (Miss Saigon and Life Could Be A Dream). The rest of the ensemble are Cesar Cipriano (The King & I, Miss Saigon – National Tours), Stephanie Mieko Cohen (Les Miserables – Broadway), Jasmine Ejan (Peter Pan – National Tour), Shay Louise (Miss Saigon), D.T. Matias (A Chorus Line – International Tour), Maegan McConnell (EWP’s  Pippin and A Little Night Music), and Alex Sanchez (Hairspray).

CHESS the musical involves a romantic triangle between two top chess players – an American and a Russian – and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. All of this takes place within the context of the Cold War, as both countries vie for international chess victories for propaganda purposes. CHESS may be best known for its 1980s pop-rock soundtrack that Time Magazine called “one of the best rock scores ever produced,” featuring hits as “One Night in Bangkok,” “I Know Him So Well,” “Anthem” and more. CHESS is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.