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
“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