Press Room

PTC Presents Chess – Concert Version

February 16, 2017
For: IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Madeleine Gail Rex
801-581-7222
madeleine.rex@ptc.utah.edu

PIONEER THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS

Chess
Concert Version

Book by Richard Nelson
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson of ABBA

SALT LAKE CITY – Pioneer Theatre Company continues its popular concert series with Chess, written by members of the pop music group ABBA, running for three performances only, March 10 – March 11, 2017 at Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre.

Before Mamma Mia! came along, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of the pop group ABBA fashioned this daring new musical about an international chess match between the Russian champion and a brash American challenger. Set during the heart of the Cold War, it could very well have been written today, as politics, espionage and intrigue collide with love and chess. Featuring the Top 40 hit “One Night in Bangkok,” this show arrived on Broadway with great fanfare and acclaim, but is only seldom performed. Here’s your chance to see the show performed in full, as a concert, with a live orchestra and cast.
Of Chess, Rolling Stone said the “dazzling score covers nearly all the pop bases,” while Time Magazine raved that the score’s “rock symphonic synthesis was ripe with sophistication and hummable tunes.”

What is a “Concert Version?” This is the entire show, fully cast, with scripts-in-hand and an on-stage orchestra.
The show contains strong language.

Florence, the woman at the center of a dangerous love triangle, is played by COLEEN SEXTON, who had her Broadway debut at 19 when she played Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde. Her other credits include playing Elphaba in the National Tour of Wicked, Brooke Wyndham in the National Tour of Legally Blonde and Donna in Mamma Mia!.

Returning nearly a decade after having struck audiences with his performance as Enjolras in the 2007 regional premiere of Les Misèrables, MICHAEL HALLING plays Anatoly, the Russian champion tired of the propaganda and political stress of the competition. Halling’s career includes numerous shows on and off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country, including the National Tour of Les Misèrables and the Broadway productions of The Pajama Game, A Tale of Two Cities, In My Life, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Boy from Oz.

MATTHEW HYDZIK plays Freddie, the brash American champion. Recently seen as Josh Barton in the National Tour of If/Then, Hydzik has also performed on Broadway in Side Show, It Shoulda Been You, West Side Story and Grease, as well as in National Tours of Rent, Fame, Grease and Flashdance.

GINGER BESS plays Svetlana, Anatoly’s earnest and compassionate wife. Bess returns to PTC after It Happened One Christmas, The Rocky Horror Show, Fiddler on the Roof and Rent, among others. She has also performed as a mezzo-soprano with Utah Symphony, for which she received national recognition.

MATTHEW STOCKE plays The Arbiter. A member of Actor’s Equity Association for over 20 years, he has performed in Broadway productions such as Sting’s The Last Ship, Rock of Ages, The Wedding Singer and The Boy from Oz, as well as in numerous regional productions and television.

Molokov, Anatoly’s mischievous “second,” is played by DAVID MCDONALD, whose Broadway credits include Les Misèrables, Side Show, Mamma Mia!, Bye Bye Birdie, Memphis and Doctor Zhivago. His 35-year career as an AEA member also includes regional, off-Broadway and television credits.

CHRISTOPHER HIGBEE plays Walter, a seemingly trustworthy and sincere businessman. Higbee is a Utah-based actor, writer, director and musician. In addition to playing roles such as Jean Valjean and Archibald Craven at Hale Center Theatres, he has also performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and is a producer of the Broadway-bound Anastasia.

The show’s ensemble features Equity actors DAN SIMONS and JEFFERY SCOTT STEVENS, as well as local actors ASHLEY GARDNER CARLSON, LENNY DANIEL, SKY KAWAI, MEGAN SHENEFELT, ELLIE SMITH and AMANDA WRIGHT, and New York-based TOREN NAKAMURA.

PTC Artistic Director KAREN AZENBERG directs and choreographs. Earlier this season, she directed and choreographed the musical Oliver!, as well as the regional premiere of Sting’s The Last Ship. Originally from New York, Azenberg’s work there includes Lyrics and Lyricists (92nd St. Y), Blocks (a collaboration with Jonathan Larson), Prom Queens Unchained, and choreography for Richard Greenberg’s The Dazzle (Roundabout). Other credits include National Tours of Carousel and Brigadoon, Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor (regional theatre premiere at Geva), over fifteen productions of West Side Story, one of which earned her a Drama-Logue Award for Outstanding Choreography, and many others.

PHIL RENO returns to PTC as the musical director and conductor after 2014’s Sweet Charity. He has been the musical director/conductor for shows such as The Drowsy Chaperone, The Producers and Cats. His other credits include Chess off-Broadway, the National Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, regional productions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Happy Days, and the film production of The Producers. He has been nominated for a Grammy for his work as coproducer of The Drowsy Chaperone’s cast album.

Costume designer BRENDA VAN DER WIEL designs costumes for the production. A member of the design faculty at the University of Utah and head of the Performing Arts Design Program, she has designed numerous shows for PTC, including this season’s Fences. Some of her favorite PTC projects are Outside Mullingar, Alabama Story, Rent, Emma, and A Christmas Story. In addition to her work here and at the university, she has designed for the Alabama and Utah Shakespeare Festivals.

Lighting design is by guest designer DAVID NEVILLE. He has designed lighting for over 300 productions at regional theatres across the country, including Portland Center Stage, Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Music Theatre West, as well as for off-Broadway productions, National Tours and International Tours.

Sound design is by PTC resident designer JOSHUA C. HIGHT. Hair and makeup design is by PTC resident designer AMANDA FRENCH.

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WHO:
Pioneer Theatre Company

WHAT:
Chess – Concert Version
Book by Richard Nelson
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson of ABBA

WHEN:
Friday, March 10, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:
Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre
300 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City

PRICE:
$25 – $40 ($5 more day-of-show)

MORE INFO:
Box Office: 801-581-6961
Open 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mon – Fri
www.pioneertheatre.org

CAST:
(In alphabetical order)

Ginger Bess*……………………………. Svetlana/Ensemble
Ashley Gardner Carlson………………… Ensemble
Lenny Daniel……………………………. Ensemble
Michael Halling*………………………… Anatoly

Christopher Higbee…………………….. Walter/Ensemble
Matthew Hydzik*……………………….. Freddie
Sky Kawai……………………………….. Ensemble
David McDonald*……………………….. Molokov
Toren Nakamura…………………………Ensemble
Coleen Sexton*…………………………. Florence
Megan Shenefelt ……………………….. Ensemble
Dan Simons*…………………………….. Ensemble
Ellie Smith………………………………. Ensemble
Jeffery Scott Stevens*………………….. Ensemble
Matthew Stocke*……………………….. The Arbiter
Amanda Wright…………………………. Ensemble

ARTISTIC TEAM:

Director………………………………………… Karen Azenberg**
Music Director and Conductor…………………. Phil Reno
Costume Designer………………………………. Brenda Van Der Wiel
Lighting Designer……………………………….. David Neville
Sound Designer…………………………………. Joshua C. Hight
Hair and Makeup Designer……………………… Amanda French
Production Stage Manager……………………… Mary P. Costello*
Stage Manager………………………………….. Augie K. Mericola*
Asst. Stage Manager……………………………. Emily Griffith

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association.
** Denotes a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

Pioneer Theatre Company operates under an agreement between the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. Pioneer Theatre Company, Utah’s only fully professional theatre, performs at Roy W. and Elizabeth E. Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, located on the University of Utah campus at 300 South and 1400 East in Salt Lake City, easily accessible by TRAX light rail. Free parking is also available and the theatre is equipped with an elevator, handicap parking, hearing assistance devices and other easy-access features.