How Did Critics Review Kennedy Center Chess, Starring Raúl Esparza, Karen Olivo, Ramin Karimloo, Ruthie Ann Miles?

The Verdict   How Did Critics Review Kennedy Center Chess, Starring Raúl Esparza, Karen Olivo, Ramin Karimloo, Ruthie Ann Miles?
Michael Mayer directs the semi-staged concert presentation of the operatic pop-rock musical.
Chess_Kennedy_Center_Production_Photo_2018_Raul Esparza and Karen Olivo in CHESS_Photo by Teresa Wood_HR.jpg
Raúl Esparza and Karen Olivo Teresa Wood

Chess, the 1984 musical by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar lyricist Tim Rice, returns in a new production helmed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Running through February 18, the Kennedy Center production features Ramin Karimloo (Anastasia, Les Misérables) as Russian chess star Anatoly Sergievski and Raúl Esparza (Company, Leap of Faith) as American chess champion Freddie Trumper, with Tony Award winner winner Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I) as Svetlana Sergievsky and Tony winner Karen Olivo (In the Heights) as Florence Vassey.

Critics has begun filing their reviews. Read their thoughts below:

DC Metro Theater Arts (Hillary Sutton)

Variety (Paul Harris)

Washington Post (Peter Marks)

This new incarnation of Chess has a revised book by Emmy Award-winning Empire and Game Change writer Danny Strong. The orchestral rock musical about the egos and emotions that collide during an international Chess championship between America and Russia has undergone numerous book revisions since its 1986 West End premiere.

Read: Raúl Esparza on Starring in ‘Rock Concert’ Chess at Kennedy Center

The cast also includes Bradley Dean (Dear Evan Hansen) as Ivan Molokov, Sean Allan Krill (Honeymoon in Vegas) as Walter Anderson, and Tony nominee Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) as the Arbiter.

The cast is completed by Paige Faure, Nkrumah Gatling, Casey Garvin, Adam Halpin, Ericka Hunter, Sean MacLaughlin, Morgan Marcell, Marissa McGowan, Chelsea Turbin, Christopher Vo, Minami Yusui, and Ricardo Zayas.

Chess has has choreography by Lorin Latarro, music direction by Chris Fenwick, orchestrations by Brian Usifer, sets by Tony winner David Rockwell (She Loves Me), lighting design by Tony winner Kevin Adams (SpongeBob SquarePants, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), costumes by Tony winner Clint Ramos (Once on This Island, Eclipsed), sound design by Tony nominee Kai Harada (The Band’s Visit, Follies), and projections by Darrel Maloney (The Parisian Woman).

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