Panelists for the League of Cincinnati Theatres (LCT) have recognized Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music’s Chess with four LCT nominations as well as distinguishing it as a recommended production: Outstanding Production (musical), Ensemble, Lead Actor (Julian Decker), and Lead Actress (Aubrey Ireland).
Loosely based on the lives of chess grandmasters Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov, Chess involves a romantic triangle between two top players (an American and a Russian) and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. With music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (of ABBA fame) and lyricist Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and The Lion King), the rock opera plays out against the Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union in which each wants to win international tournaments for purposes of propaganda.
Panelists described Julian Decker’s portrayal of Anatoly Sergievsky as “layered and nuanced” and “engaging”. Aubrey Ireland as Florence Vassy was “compelling and interesting to watch”. Both actors provided “exceptional emotional focus and incredible vocals”. The ensemble was praised as “superb…it’s a strength of CCM to have supporting roles every bit as talented as the leads”. Overall the production was praised as “excellent…an outstanding production of a remarkable musical”.
Note: the leads in Chess were double-cast, and the majority of panelists watched the opening night cast. The second cast was not reviewed by enough panelists for to be eligible for a nomination.
Final LCT awards will be determined at the end of the season and announced at the LCT gala in the spring.