Stroyka Theater ChessBy Lisa Kay Morton • Sep 22nd, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Burke Theater at the Heritage Center, Washington DC
Through September 27th
$25/$20 Seniors and Students/$15 Military
Reviewed September 19th, 2009
Director Romans S. Gusso and Producer Henry Keegan presented a graphic production in black and white of Tim Rice’s rock musical Chess. Presented in their new home at the Heritage Center in the US Navy Memorial, the production effectively utilized minimal props and compelling graphics on a huge production screen.
Ostensibly about a world chess competition between a Russian champion (Anatoly Sergievsky) and a hotheaded American challenger (Frederick Trumper), which was inspired by the Boris Spassky-Bobby Fischer matches in Iceland in 1972, the plot uses chess as an all-encompassing metaphor for life. Chess the musical, has struggled for acceptance on and off-Broadway and the demands of a described as a “Suite of temper tantrums” are many.
Without a shade of grey, the set, costumes, and backdrops were an effective and artistic asset to the production and the work space. Mr. Gusso has a flair for dialogue and pacing which was evident in many of the scenes which were done well. Outstanding performances by Christopher Furry as the passionate Anatoly and Josh Canary as the ego-maniacal Freddie Trumper were worth the cost of admission. The outstanding musicianship, characterization of both gentleman are a huge plus. Quixotic casting however, set this game off. The largest role of Florence, played by Jennifer Gusso, was a musical misfit. A competent actress, Ms. Gusso waivered vocally in this demanding role.
Musically the show was all over the map. Beautiful vocals from all of the men – including up and coming actor Brian Hackman (The Arbiter) and Walter Gottlieb (Molokov) and consistently thin, out of tune vocals from the women of the ensemble and cast as well as the children’s ensemble and an anemic rock band dragged down many of the musical numbers. The disparity between the strength of the male cast and female cast made this production a stalemate.
Stalemate still makes a good game.
Photos provided by Stroyka Theater.
- Gregor Vassy: Denys Petrov
- Young Florence: Arielle Granatstein Gottlieb
- Freddie Trumper: Josh Canary
- Florence Vassy: Jennifer Gusso
- Anatoly Sergievsky: Christopher Furry
- Molokov: Walter Gottlieb
- Nikolai: Denys Petrov
- Young Anatoly: Simon Gusso
- Walter Anderson: David Deal
- Arbiter: Brian Hackman
- Svetlana Sergievsky Roselie Vasquez-Yetter
- Young Freddie: Zhenya Anderschat
- Father: Roger Mac Donald
- Ensemble: Erin Bricker, Greg Crowe, Christopher Dong, Adrianne DuChateau, Kiva Fecteau, Joanne Frezzo, Becky Granatastein, Morgaine Lower, Michael Nuget, Shelby Smith, Wendy Stengel, Erica Wilmore, August Yetter, Chloe Yetter
- Producer: Henry Keegan
- Director: Roman S Gusso
- Asst Director: Samuel Basa
- Stage Manager: Corey Bernstein
- Musical Director: John Marlowe
- Choreography: Roselie Vasquez-Yetter, Alcine Wiltz, Gi Buscaglio
- Lighting Design: Josh Canary
- Props: Michelle Brooks
- Costumes: Chary Izquierido
- Visuals: Roger MacDonald
- Light & Projection Operator: Adam Fischer
- Spot Operators: Leora Gottleib & Samuel Basa
- Running Crew: Michelle Brooks, Geevieve Fecteau
- House Manager: Pamela Anferschat
- Publicity: Jennifer Gussi
- Photographer: Karen Simmons
- Videographer: Ben Simmons
- Program & Poster Design: Samuel Basa
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