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Revised ‘Chess’ On Way In San Bernardino

Yet another reworking of the musical “Chess” will hit the boards next month, this time with a revised book and rearranged score as the final season entry of the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera.

Opening May 10 under the direction of Glenn Casale, the production will have the same set the Civic Light Opera designed for the national tour, as well as a revised story. The score is by Tim Rice, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Rice wrote the book.

The Civic Light Opera team has the creators’ approval on the revisions.

The show opened in London in 1986 and ran for three years, and it opened in 1988 for a brief run on Broadway. Scenic design for the London production was by Robin Wagner.

Company marketing director Joseph Henson and producer/g.m. C. Dale Jenks decided to have LA.-based Greg Scanlan rework some of the complex book. “What we decided was that the book really is a ‘Romeo & Juliet’ story between an American chess second, Florence, and a Russian chess champion, Anatoly,” Henson said.

To clarify character motivations in this story of love and international intrigue, Henson said, some of the songs were moved. For instance, the “Heaven Help My Heart” ballad has been shifted from the second act to the first.

The musical played the Orange County Performing Arts Center in May 1990 just before beginning its abbreviated national tour and in October when director David Bell tackled it for the Long Beach Civic Light Opera.

The project, being eyed by members of the National Alliance of Musical Theater Producers for a possible tour, already has sold about 85% of its available tickets for a May 10 to 19 run.

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