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CCM Presents Acclaimed Rock Opera 'Chess' Oct. 25-28

Featuring music by ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson with lyrics by Tim Rice, CCM's Mainstage Series continues this month with the must-see musical 'Chess.'

Date: 10/18/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: Sara Kissinger
Other Contact: Curt Whitacre
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-2683
Photos By: Mark Lyons

UC ingot  
From left to right: Aubrey Ireland as Florence Vassay, Matthew Hill as Anatoly Sergievsky and Blaine Krauss as Freddie Trumper in CCM's Mainstage production of 'Chess.'
From left to right: Aubrey Ireland as Florence Vassay, Matthew Hill as Anatoly Sergievsky and Blaine Krauss as Freddie Trumper in CCM's Mainstage production of 'Chess.'

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) proudly presents the acclaimed rock opera Chess as the next installment in this year's Mainstage Series. Featuring music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (of the Swedish rock group ABBA) and lyrics by Golden Globe, Tony, Grammy and Academy Award-winner Tim Rice (of Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, The Lion King and more), Chess has what Time magazine calls "one of the best rock scores ever produced." Directed by Aubrey Berg with musical direction by Stephen Goers, choreography by Diane Lala, scenic design by Mark Halpin and costumes by Rebecca Senske, Chess runs Oct. 25-28 in UC's Corbett Auditorium.

Set in Bangkok and Budapest during the World Chess Championship of 1972, Chess uses the board game as a metaphor for the Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, with each superpower vying to win international tournaments for purposes of propaganda. The romantic triangle between two young grand masters – an American and a Russian – and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other, forms the heart of this intriguing tale.

“The setting for Chess is abstract – a chessboard on which the action plays out,” explains Aubrey Berg, CCM's Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre and the director of this production. “Though the protagonists feel they are acting independently, they are ultimately revealed as pawns in a greater power struggle.”

This concept also spoke to scenic designer Mark Halpin, a visiting assistant professor of scenic design at CCM. “I tried to suggest a world that is inhabited mostly by people who engage with things on a logical, intellectual level,” Halpin says. “The shapes and forms are repetitive, cold and cerebral, and it’s when peoples’ emotions clash with that world that things get interesting.”

Several songs from Chess have become international hits, with “One Night in Bangkok” reaching Number 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the duet “I Know Him So Well,” holding the No. 1 spot on the U.K. singles charts for four weeks.

Junior Aubrey Ireland plays Florence Vassy, the woman desperately caught between Freddie (the American) and Anatoly (the Russian) in this double-cast production. “The score to Chess is absolutely stunning,” Ireland says. “It has the perfect blend of moving power ballads and gut-wrenching emotions that play so well on stage.” The original Florence was played by long-time British pop star Elaine Paige and Ireland feels fortunate that she’s able to perform “such an epic piece.”

Of the dramatic elements of Chess, Berg says, “The action plays out in a world of spies, counter-agents and super-powers vying for supremacy.” Senior Josh Tolle, one of two CCM students playing Freddie, echoes this fantastic theme: “They’ve really turned Corbett Auditorium into the set of a James Bond film. If you want to see a show where people are forced to combat the circumstances they’ve been given, fight hard for love even when it may be a losing game and pick up all of the pieces against all odds, this is a night for you.”

Performance Times
  • 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25
  • 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26
  • 2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28
Corbett Auditorium, College-Conservatory of Music
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Chess are $30 for adults, $19 for non-UC students, $17 for UC students with $12 student rush tickets available for the Saturday matinee beginning at 1 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at

Subscription packages are also still available for CCM's 2012-13 Mainstage Series. For more information on CCM's Mainstage Series subscription options, visit

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit for more information on parking rates.

For directions to CCM Village, visit

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor & Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy's