Chess preview

Feb 182004
Authors: Daniel Hallford

The musical “Chess,” which is being put on by the CSU Theatre

program and opening tonight, is a work of international intrigue

and local fatigue.

Directed by Morris Burns, who is a professor in the Department

of Music, Theatre and Dance, “Chess” tells the story of two nations

locked in the grip of a cold war. “Chess” is a metaphor for the

interactions of Soviet Russia and the United States during the

stalemate between the two countries.

“It is an electrifying evening of theatre. The movement of the

work carries the essence of the vibrancy of the material. It is a

big challenge for a production company,” Burns said.

Freshman theatre major Zach Tait and junior music major Cathleen

Wright play Russian accomplices in “Chess.”

“Chess is very serious. There are a lot of good jokes, but it’s

very serious. Each character is a piece in the chess game,” Wright

said. “There’s really good chemistry on stage, we have the perfect

cast for this show,” Wright said.

Wright performed in the Spring Opera Scenes this year at CSU,

but this is her first acting endeavor on the Johnson Hall


Tait acted in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” last fall at CSU, but

was ready to get into something more modern.

“I wanted to do a musical, acting is something I love to do,”

Tait said. “Things worked out, luckily we can major in it.”

Nick Ishimaru is a junior theatre major playing the role of

Walter Anderson.

“I slip in and out of Louisiana (accent) and it’s tough to keep

talking in an audible fashion,” said Ishimaru about his character,

whose dual personality and roles make for a twisting plot.

Junior music major Katie Yeager plays the Arbiter, a god-like

figure in the play.

“I don’t know what I am, I think I’m lost,” said Yeager about

her character’s interaction with everyone else.

The cast of “Chess” has been rehearsing since Jan. 12, but the

set and design crew has had less time than normal because they

started a week later. This leads to nothing short of a frantic

environment. With three directors, an orchestra and a cast with

more than 20 members, “Chess” is an enormous endeavor.

“(Chess) is a rock musical, it’s something we haven’t done at

CSU,” Yeager said.

Todd Queen is musical director for “Chess,” which is the third

musical Queen has done at CSU in his three years here.

The production’s musical side has performers that come from all

areas of academics. Though about half of the cast and orchestra are

music, theatre or dance majors, the rest come from a vast pool of

acting and musical talent on campus.

“Non-majors are really important to our show,” said Queen, who

has put in hours of work helping cast members train for vocal

parts. “This is what I love to do. You put a lot of work in with

the actors in the beginning, and then the production just takes

off. You just get to watch your students become professionals.”

“Chess” opens tonight at 8 p.m. on the Johnson Hall Main


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