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Ray A. Rochelle as Alexander Molokov in CHESS.

Ray A. Rochelle as Alexander Molokov in CHESS.

Tell us about the character you play, and how can you relate to him/her. Is there any part of CHESS that resonates with you as an actor, or personally?

I play the part of Alexander Molokov (the Russian Second) and he is seen as an antagonist of this show. I appreciate the “bad-guy” or character roles because of their layers and complexities in pushing and feeding the storylines. Because Chess is set in the 80’s during the Cold War, I remember clips of media and movies that reminded me of pieces Molokov’s character.  I understand the intention of his plot points and added color to his storyline by creating gestures and emotion that give him life through my interpretation.

What challenges, if any, have you faced with playing your character? –

I chose to smoke an electronic cigarette on stage to give the character some sense of habit or business. I actually do not inhale the smoke. But there are times, when I am not careful just before I speak or sing, when the smoke has gotten into my lungs which almost caused me to cough right before my lines. Also, the Russian accent I speak and sing with is not easy. But, luckily for me, it is one of the accents I was already familiar with before being cast in the role. It’s a funny thing I like to do to creditors when they call my home… in real life!

What distinguishes this production or role you have compared to other characters you’ve played in the past?

Molokov doesn’t usually get featured as much in past productions of Chess. The director and choreographer have given me room to make the role of Molokov more memorable in THIS production of Chess more than any other.

What made you want to pursue acting?

When I started in show business, I was originally a chorus dancer. I found that more growth in the entertainment industry could come from the craft of acting.

Have you ever faced adversity in your career, and if so, how?

I have been very fortunate to not have faced adversity.  Most of the companies or organizations I have auditioned/worked for don’t see me as a specific race or color. I have been fortunate to have worked as long as I have and for as many production companies due to my ability and opportunities given me to direct, perform, costume, and cast.

Any advice you’d give to actors just starting out?

Have a flexible day job or some money in the bank to sustain your craft. And audition for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING so you can start building your resume. As you work more, you will be able to cut your resume down to the things that show your best work!

What’s in store for you after CHESS

I currently have a full-time (9 to 5) job but I have been granted leave to perform as the “Interpreter’ in the King and I for two weeks at the prestigious Sacramento Music Circus this summer. I will also be casting the hit musical Nunsense  for the San Gabriel Valley Music Theatre in late June 2013.

Anything else you’d like to share?

East West Players is a wonderful place to work for/with and I proudly call them my second home!

How can fans stay updated about your projects?

Twitter: @DirectorHands

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Sir Tim Rice with the cast of CHESS.

Sir Tim Rice with the cast of CHESS.

FINAL PERFORMANCES! MUST CLOSE SUNDAY, JUNE 23!

Critics and audiences alike have been raving about CHESS! The LA Times calls the rarely produced musical an “…imaginative production…” and Sir Tim Rice (award-winning lyricist) said it was “…terrific!” Join us for the final performances: Wednesday 6/19 – Saturday 6/22 @ 8pm and Sunday 6/23 @ 2pm.

Buy 2 tickets for the price of one! Enter code CHESS241 for the Wednesday 6/19 and Thursday 6/20 performances only. The code can be used online or call Box Office at (213) 625-7000 x20.

CHESS is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Featuring: Joan Almedilla, Elijah Rock, Victor E. Chan, Carey Rebecca Brown, Ray A. Rochelle, Marc Oka, and Ryan Castellino with Cesar Cipriano, Stephanie Mieko Cohen, Jasmine Ejan, Shay Louise, D.T. Matias, Maegan McConnell, Alex Sanchez, and Justin Vasquez. Learn more.

PERFORMANCE RUN
Wed-Thurs at 8pm Balcony $46/Orchestra $51
Fri-Sat at 8pm Balcony $51/Orchestra $56
Sun at 2pm Balcony $51/Orchestra $56
*$4 per ticket handling fee on all regular ticket purchases.

Student and Senior Discounts $5 off regular ticket price.
Special Group Rates available for ten (10) or more. Call Alison De La Cruz at (213) 625-7000 x 20 for details.

SAVE THE DATES
Wine Down Fridays
Complimentary glasses of red or white wine before the show, during the regular performance run. (Must be 21+ years of age.)

PURCHASE TICKETS AT https://eastwestplayers.secure.force.com/ticket

 

“You were all terrific!” Sir Tim Rice shared with the cast, band and crew of Chess this past weekend in an intimate post-show meet and greet. The cast was requested to convene promptly onstage after the show to meet someone, but were not informed with whom.

“Knowing Sir Rice is based in London, it was a complete surprise and an honor to have him attend our production of Chess in Los Angeles.” Says Tim Dang, EWP’s Producing Artistic Director. “He was so gracious in speaking with everyone and taking photos.”

Prolific lyricist and author Sir Tim Rice penned Chess with ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Sir Rice also collaborated with our theater’s namesake, David Henry Hwang on the Tony Award winning Aida. The Tony, Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe-award winning lyricist is also known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita) and Elton John (The Lion King, Aida) and Alan Menken for Disney (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast).

This Thursday (6/6/13) ONLY! East West Players is offering a special “Buy One Get One” ticket to the Thursday evening performance of Chess. Enter code CHESS241 when purchasing online and mention the code when ordering tickets at Box Office at (213) 625-7000 x20.

CHESS is playing now through June 23rd at East West Players. All performances are staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.eastwestplayers.org or by calling (213)625-7000. Regular tickets range from $51-$56. Student and Senior discounts available. Dates, prices and details are subject to change.

Photo Credit: Mike Nailat

Vidoe Credit: Oishi Media

Audiences Love CHESS! (VIDEO)

WHAT CRITICS ARE RAVING ABOUT…

“…imaginative production…” Los Angeles Times

“Dang chooses the through-sung U.K. version of the show, which heavily features his soloists, all of whom have great pipes. Joan Almedilla (Florence) soars, Elijah Rock (Anatoly) belts with gusto…and Carey Rebecca Brown (Svetlana) showcases delicate power. Victor E. Chan (Freddie) has moxie…while Ray A. Rochelle (Molokov) brings Bond-villain fun to the show.” – LA Weekly

“…for a show that rarely gets produced, Dang should be commended for tackling the challenge — and in doing so, exceeding expectations. Well done.” Edge Magazine

“Wikipedia writes that “no major revival production of the musical has yet been attempted either on West End or Broadway,” and it may be the case that Chess simply doesn’t have what it takes to become the blockbuster that sung-through musicals like Evita, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Miss Saigon have become. Still, with Dang and company’s creative juices at full boil, East West Players’ revival comes darned close.” Stage Scene LA

WHAT AUDIENCES ARE SAYING…

“Don’t walk. Run to get your ticket (to CHESS)” – Reggie Lee, Actor (Grimm, Fast and the Furious)

“This is a phenomenal production of an extremely complex play. The singers are especially remarkable.” Larry M.

“I saw the original show in London and in New York. This was the best of all – so powerful! So exciting – such voices!” – Charlie M.

“Talent knows no color.” – Melanie R.

“Incredible performances – better than London’s original production.” – Patron

“Florence and Svetlana were electric on stage!” – Patron

EXTENDED THRU JUNE 23! NOW PLAYING!

East West Players has extended the run of CHESS, now through June 23rd, 2013. All performances are staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

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.

CHESS is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Featuring: Joan Almedilla, Elijah Rock, Victor E. Chan, Carey Rebecca Brown, Ray A. Rochelle, Michael Alexander Henry, and Ryan Castellino with Cesar Cipriano, Stephanie Mieko Cohen, Jasmine Ejan, Shay Louise, D.T. Matias, Maegan McConnell, Alex Sanchez, and Justin Vasquez. Learn more.

Running Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, which includes a 15 minute intermission.

PERFORMANCE RUN

Wed-Thurs at 8pm Balcony $46/Orchestra $51
Fri-Sat at 8pm Balcony $51/Orchestra $56
Sun at 2pm Balcony $51/Orchestra $56
*$4 per ticket handling fee on all regular ticket purchases.

Student and Senior Discounts $5 off regular ticket price.
Special Group Rates available for ten (10) or more. Call Alison De La Cruz at (213) 625-7000 x 20 for details.

SAVE THE DATES

Wine Down Fridays
Complimentary glasses of red or white wine before the show, during the regular performance run. (Must be 21+ years of age.)

PURCHASE TICKETS AT https://eastwestplayers.secure.force.com/ticket.

Watch a sneak peek of the rarely produced musical production CHESS, now playing at East West Players, with Director Tim Dang. The Los Angeles Times calls it “…an imaginative production…” and the run has been extended to Sunday, June 23. For tickets, call (213) 625-7000 or visit http://www.eastwestplayers.org.

Video courtesy of Oishi Media.

600x222-chess-b

East West Players has extended the run of CHESS, now through June 23rd, 2013. All performances are staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

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.

“Audiences who are CHESS aficionados or only acquainted with the concert version, are elated to see a full production in Los Angeles,” said Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director of East West Players. “One couple  waited almost 25 years to see a production in this area and are coming back again with friends. We are happy to present them with a stylish production with a most talented cast.”

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.

Generous support for this production is provided by the S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players. All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Regular performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.eastwestplayers.org or by calling 213.625.7000. Regular tickets range from $51-$56. Student and Senior discounts available. Dates, prices and details are subject to change.

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.

CHESS

East West Players concludes its 47th Anniversary Season, themed Spirited Away, with the musical CHESS, 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 will be directed by Tim Dang, musical direction 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). 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), Domonique Paton (Hairspray – National Tour), Alex Sanchez (Hairspray), Armando Yearwood, Jr. (West Side Story – International Tour, In the Heights – National Tour).

“CHESS is a musical with international themes of breaking down barriers between nations, and having a multicultural ensemble enhances its message for the 21st Century,” says Tim Dang, EWP Producing Artistic Director. “In addition, EWP is also showing how multicultural casting breaks down other barriers in light of recent casting controversies across the nation. It enriches our theatre going experience, reflects the community in which we live, and offers opportunities to talented artists of color who might not have access to these roles elsewhere. CHESS is usually performed as a concert focusing on its music and is rarely done as a full theatrical production. EWP dares to tackle this large scale musical much like it tackled Sweeney Todd in its 1994 and 2006 productions: with creativity and ingenuity in its story-telling. Our audience is not likely to have seen a version of CHESS like this previously and may never see anything like this in the near future.”

From the lyricist of Jesus Christ Superstar and the composers of Mamma Mia!, 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.

The multicultural nature of the production also extends to the design/technical team and musician ensemble.

The design team includes set and projections by Adam Flemming, costumes by Anthony Tran, lighting by Dan Weingarten and props by Ken Takemoto. The stage manager is Ondina V. Dominguez and assistant stage manager is VIVIS.

The musicians will include Marc Macalintal (conductor/ keyboards), Jenny Chaney (keyboards), Stuart Espinoza (drums), Khris Kempis (bass), Vincent Reyes (guitar), and  Austin Yancey (woodwinds).

Generous support for this production is provided by the S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players. Additional support is provided by the California Community Foundation, Shubert Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Tickets to CHESS are now on sale!  Regular tickets range from $51-$56. Student and Senior discounts available.

All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

  • Previews are Thursday May 9-Saturday May 11 at 8pm and Sunday May 12 at 2pm. All preview seats are $26.
  • Opening Night for CHESS THE MUSICAL is Wednesday, May 15th at 8pm and includes a 7pm pre-performance cocktail reception, and a post-show reception with the cast and creative team (call theater for ticket price and availability).
  • A special “Pay-What-You-Can” Performance is on Thursday, May 16th. Southern California Edison Community Night is Wednesday, May 22nd at 8pm.

Regular performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.eastwestplayers.org or by calling 213.625.7000. CHESS closes on June 9th.  Dates, prices and details are subject to change.

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