ON STAGE: Playhouse South presents rarely produced ‘Chess’

From left: TC Schreier (Freddie Trumper), Lindsey Cardoza (Florence Vassy), TJ Montgomery (Antaoly Sergievsky), and Jim Brown (Ivan Molokov) are featured in Playhouse South s production of Chess continuing through Nov. 12 inside Kettering s Clark Haines Theatre (Contributed photo)

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From left: TC Schreier (Freddie Trumper), Lindsey Cardoza (Florence Vassy), TJ Montgomery (Antaoly Sergievsky), and Jim Brown (Ivan Molokov) are featured in Playhouse South s production of Chess continuing through Nov. 12 inside Kettering s Clark Haines Theatre (Contributed photo)

The show that gave birth to “One Night in Bangkok” is back.

The rarely staged 1988 musical “Chess,” which flopped on Broadway but still attracts a strong cult following nearly 30 years later, continues through Sunday, Nov. 12, inside Kettering’s Clark Haines Theatre courtesy of Playhouse South.

Featuring a vocally demanding score by Tim Rice (“Jesus Christ Superstar”) and ABBA tunesmiths Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus, “Chess” is a Cold War-era tale of U.S. and Russian intrigue set against the backdrop of an international chess match.

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As American hotshot Freddie Trumper and Russian powerhouse Anatoly Sergievsky battle for international glory, Florence Vassy, Freddie’s manager, ultimately falls in love with Anatoly. Emotional stakes are raised as romantic and political complications ensue accented by such terrific songs as “Someone Else’s Story,” “Anthem,” “I Know Him So Well,” and the aforementioned pop hit made famous by Murray Head.

"The tensions between America and Russia are tangible in 'Chess' and that is mirrored in today's politics so it really remains current," said TC Schreier portraying Freddie. "History has a maniacal way of repeating itself."

“On the surface, ‘Chess’ is a story about two champions with a love triangle between them, but the show has so much history and layers built in,” echoed TJ Montgomery portraying troubled Anatoly. “It’s a very smart show.”

Schreier, happily returning to Playhouse South where he was nurtured as an actor, is particularly excited to give self-absorbed Freddie his fair share of flair.

“He’s like a mix of Bobby Fischer and Freddie Mercury all wrapped up in a David Bowie box and tied with a diva bow. His songs are glam rock and I can’t wait to put a fresh spin on the character and give him new life.”

The principal cast includes Lindsey Cardoza as Florence, Jim Brown as Molokov, Madison Galloway as Svetlana, Wayne Myers as Walter, Matt Clifton as Arbiter, Brad Bishop as Gregory Vassy, Serenity Earich as Young Florence, and Naman Clark as Nikolai.

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“This show is a challenge because the music is difficult and the content is somewhat dated,” added director Carrie Thurston. “But I think what I would like the audience to take away from the show is that there are always going to be people who want something from you or try to manipulate things for their own good. You have to be true to yourself.”

“Chess” continues Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and today and next Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Clark Haines Theatre (Kettering Board of Education Building) 3750 Far Hills Ave., Kettering. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and military, and $8 for students. For tickets or more information, call 1-888-262-3792 or visit www.playhousesouth.org.

‘GREASE’ IS THE WORD AT UD

Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s popular 1972 musical “Grease,” a tale of friendship and romance between close-knit teenagers at Rydell High in 1959, will be collaboratively presented by the University of Dayton’s Department of Music and the Theatre, Dance, and Performance Technology Program Nov. 10-12.

"This show is just so much fun," said director Linda Dunlevy, whose artistic team includes choreographer Amy Jones. "It's lighthearted and energetic with a great boy-meets-girl story people have loved in musical theater for years. And although the script calls for 18 actors we have enlarged the cast in order to have a fuller chorus for ensemble numbers such as 'Beauty School Dropout' and 'We Go Together.'"

“We were not surprised by the great audition turnout for ‘Grease’ because this is a beloved musical,” said Michelle Hayford, UD’s Theatre, Dance and Performance Technology Program Director. “The Theatre, Dance, and Performance Technology faculty and the Music faculty felt strongly that we needed to cast as many students as we could. It’s been another successful collaboration between TDP and Music that supports students in the most comprehensive way to do their best work and they are bringing it!”

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“Grease” notably marks Dunlevy’s swan song at UD after 24 years of service. She plans to retire in May.

“I’ve gotten to do everything from serious drama to musicals to Shakespeare at the University of Dayton and I have really appreciated that as a director,” she said. “I always found something to learn in every show I’ve done. I’ve always had an opportunity to grow here and it’s been wonderful working with the students who are constantly seeking growth themselves. I loved my time at UD.”

“Grease” will be performed Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Boll Theatre of the Kennedy Union on campus, 300 College Park, Dayton. Tickets are $12 for general public and $8 for UD students and faculty. For more information, call (937) 229-3950 or visit https://www.udayton.edu/artssciences/academics/theatre/welcome/index.php.

ACTOR’S THEATRE RETURNS WITH STEINBECK CLASSIC

Formerly defunct Actor’s Theatre of Fairborn returns to the local arts scene with John Steinbeck’s classic 1937 drama “Of Mice And Men” Nov. 10-18.

The troupe's first production as the Miami Valley's newest community theater will feature Dan Donohue as George, Matthew E. Shober as Lennie, director Jim Harworth as Slim, Ken Sheets as Candy, Harry W. Shepard as The Boss, Stephen Callenberg as Curly, Jade McConnell's as Curly's Wife, Joseph Donahue as Carlson, David S. Peterson as Whit, and Roi D. Miller as Crooks.

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Originally built in 1921 as a silent movie theater, the venue has been unoccupied since 2009 until Harworth, a Xenia business owner, bought the theater earlier this year.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Reservations can also be made by calling the theater at (937) 878-3353. Actor’s Theatre of Fairborn is located at 23 E. Main St. in downtown Fairborn.

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