Trevor Nunn to direct Chess. By Dena Kleiman

Trevor Nunn, the Tony Award-winning director, will take over the direction of Chess, the expensive new Broadway-bound musical, the Shubert Organization announced yesterday. Chess was left without a director and choreographer last week, when Michael Bennett withdrew, reportedly because of health reasons.

Mr Nunn, who won his Tonys for Cats and Nicholas Nickleby, will direct Chess, both in London and in New York, according to Bernard B. Jacobs, president of the Shubert Organization, the producer.

Mr Jacobs said that no choreographer had as yet been selected for the show, scheduled to open on the 14th of May, 1986 at the Prince Albert Theatre in London and on Broadway in the Spring of 1987. But he added that the production would keep to its current schedule.

The show has attracted attention because of the fame of its creators and its anticipated expense. Mr Jacobs has estimated its cost at $2.5 million in London and more than $5 million on Broadway. The weekly break-even point for the show will be about $110,000 in London and about $300,000 in New York.

Conception and lyrics

Mr Bennett, one of Broadway’s most successful directors and choreographers, withdrew from Chess, a love story set against Soviet and American intrigue during a world chess championship, reportedly because of an attack of angina. Mr Jacobs said last week that at one point Mr Bennett was not fully satisfied with the book and lyrics, which were written by Tim Rice.

Mr Rice is credited with the conception and lyrics of Chess. The rock musicians Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of the Swedish pop group ABBA wrote the score.

Mr Nunn has a host of other directorial responsibilities in the coming year, including that of joint artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. He was not available for comment yesterday because he was at a news conference for the R.S.C. in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.

A production of Nicholas Nickleby, co-directed by Nunn, is to tour major cities in this country starting in June, according to Fred Nathan, a spokesman for the Shubert Organization, which is co-producing the production. A firm schedule is not yet available, Mr Nathan said.

Mr Nunn is also scheduled to direct a production of Les Misérables, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, which will begin rehearsal in the United States next November, according to Cameron Mackintosh, who has co-produced the current production in London with the R.S.C.

Although Chess has not yet been performed on stage, the RCA recording of the score has sold more than one million copies and has yielded two hit singles – One Night In Bangkok, a Top 10 song in the United States, and I Know Him So Well, a No.1 song in England. Transcribed for ABBA World

The New York Times · Tuesday, 28 January 1986 (Page C15)

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