LOGAN -- "Chess" is a cult classic in the world of musical theater, but it is far from a perfect musical.
Kenneth Risch, head of the department of theater arts at Utah State University, will discuss the challenges of directing the imperfect show during the USU-sponsored Kiger Hour on Thursday, April 19, in Logan.
"Chess" was the brainchild of composers Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus -- the two "B's" in the musical group ABBA -- and lyricist Tim Rice, whose body of work includes "Evita," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Aida." Inspiration for "Chess" came from the highly politicized matchup between chess champs Bobby Fisher and Boris Spassky at the World Chess Championship of 1972.
Since its debut in the mid-1980s, "Chess" has won over countless fans -- particularly overseas. ABBA fans will recognize the musical style of its two composers in a score that includes rousing anthems, soaring ballads and the chart-topping pop hit "One Night in Bangkok." However, the show was highly problematic and derided by many critics.
The musical remains in a constant state of change as creators, directors and producers wrestle with the challenges that come with presenting a rock musical about the Cold War and the game of chess, said Risch, who joined the USU faculty in 2011. Risch directed "Chess" two years ago while teaching undergraduate theater students in the Midwest.
"I hope that this short talk will provide some insight as to how I approached working with 'Chess' from an academic perspective, as well as from the soul," he said in a press release. "Critics felt that 'Chess' had an unfocused storyline that the score, as it existed at the time, couldn't flesh out or clarify enough. The characters were also regarded as unsympathetic and the ending, in particular, left audiences unsatisfied."
Risch's talk will address his role as a director and how he attempted to entertain his audience and help them appreciate the imperfect cult classic.
The Kiger Hour begins at 5:15 p.m. April 19 at Hamilton's Steak and Seafood in Logan. A buffet with appetizers, desserts and soft drinks, iced tea or coffee is available.
The cost is $6.95 per person (plus tax and gratuity) and billed on an individual basis. Guests can also order from the menu; a cash bar is available.
- WHAT: Kiger Hour presentation on musical theater’s ‘Chess’
- WHEN: 5:15 p.m. Thursday, April 19
- WHERE: Hamilton’s Steak and Seafood, 2427 N. Main St., Logan
- TICKETS: $6.95/person, includes buffet, plus tax and gratuity; billed on an individual basis.