Björn and Benny’s musical is set up again

Charlie Taylor

On the day 20 years after the original Swedish production, the musical Chess will be staged again, this time in Helsingborg. “Given the war in Ukraine, I think the audience will see the show with completely different eyes than then,” says Anders Ekborg, who plays the Russian chess player Anatoly.Published: 28 June 2022, 21:51Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson A musical about two chess players during the Cold War was first staged in London in 1986. With songs such as “Anthem” and “I know him so well”, it became a great success and the show spread around the world. A Swedish version was set up at Cirkus in Stockholm in 2002, partly remodeled where greater emphasis was placed on the characters’ relationships and a love story. Then Anders Ekborg played the American chess player Freddie Trumper. When Chess, in connection with the 20th anniversary, is set up in Helsingborg this summer, the idea was that the musical star would play the same role again. But the same day that Dagens industri visits the rehearsals, they have just made a rock between the actors where Anders Ekborg instead plays the American antagonist, Anatoly Sergievsky. That after the artistic director and protagonist Kalle Leander was fired. “I actually also did Anatolij then twenty years ago because I sometimes jumped in when Tommy Körberg had to cancel”, says Anders Ekborg during a short break between rehearsals. “Of course it is a change so close to the premiere. At the same time, I feel very much for Anatoly, who is forced to make a life choice. He falls in love with his opponent’s agent and wants to leave the Soviet Union but is torn between his feelings and his loyalty to his country. It is deeply rooted in Russian culture and is sometimes difficult for us in the West to understand. ”The classical musical is played during nine performances at Helsingborg arena, with a premiere on 30 June. Actually, it was supposed to be staged two years ago, but the show has been postponed several times due to the pandemic. Most of the ensemble has still hung on in the meantime and can now finally meet the audience. In addition to Anders Ekborg, there are several other traction patches such as Loa Falkman and Gunilla Backman. The role of chess referee is played by Gert Fylking. Anders Ekborg can be seen in the picture.Anders Ekborg can be seen in the picture. Photo: Emil Malmborg “He is a character who will probably attract some audiences. Overall, it is a fantastic heavy ensemble that we managed to attract here to Helsingborg in the middle of the summer. It feels very good “, says producer Anders Broström. Behind the set is the small production company Sinne & Scen, which is best known for setting up the Pettson & Findus children’s theater in a park in Ängelholm every summer. ”This is of course something completely different and sometimes it feels crazy that we started the project. It has also turned out that these are tough times for the entertainment industry because it is difficult to get staff. Everything from choir singers to sound technicians has become a scarce commodity. We have been forced to conjure with our knees and built the set a lot on voluntary efforts. ”Also Anders Ekborg believes that the set in Helsingborg differs from most he has done before. While the rehearsals for a major musical usually last for three months, the ensemble now only has a few weeks left, before the premiere. “But right now it feels really good and I never hesitated to say yes. It is always fun to come to Skåne. In addition, I feel a certain responsibility that it will be good because I have worked so much with Björn and Benny’s productions that deserve to live on for many generations. ”A difference from the set at Cirkus 20 years ago is the scenography which in Helsingborg is largely digital and played on screens in the background. Otherwise, most of the set is intact, not least the music and lyrics. “Music is the strength of Chess, I was completely taken when I first saw it. Since it is not a talk, it will also be the songs that completely take the action forward. It is unique and requires a lot of all the actors “, says Anders Ekborg who believes that the audience will still have a different feeling today, than 20 years ago. “Right then, the Cold War was not so present and nothing that worried much. Given the war in Ukraine, it is serious again, which feels very uncomfortable. We have not adapted the set to what is happening in the outside world but it is not needed, I still think that Chess today will contain more darkness. In the eyes of the beholder, so to speak. ”

Chess in Helsingborg

Chess was written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Tim Rice and Richard Nelson. The musical premiered at the Prince Edward Theater in London in 1986. The first version in Swedish was staged at Cirkus in Stockholm in 2002. The new production will be performed during the period June 30-July 7 at Helsingborg arena. The roles include Anders Ekborg, Gunilla Backman, Loa Falkman and Karoline Dons. Pontus Herin


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