Reworked Chess set for Sydney: After rocky genesis, Theater Royal plans $A3-mil show in February, 1990 with Adelaide’s Earle. By Debbie Kruger


After years of negotiations resulting in several checkmates, the musical Chess is set to open in Sydney early next year in the newly refurbished Theater Royal.

Aussie production of the Tim Rice/Benny Andersson/Björn Ulvaeus show has a preproduction budget of $A3-million, and is to be produced by the theater’s owners, the MLC Theater Royal Co., and independent Adelaide-based Kevin Earle. MLC’s director, Frederick Gibson, says he wanted a “major musical of international standing” to reopen the theater after its $A4.5-million renovation. Earle had the Chess rights, and was planning to open the show in Melbourne, until Gibson persuaded him to plan a Sydney bow instead.

Earle was fortunate Gibson came along. He had failed to raise the money for his planned Melbourne-based production, despite having assembled a topnotch creative team. Earle was co-producer, with Mort Clark, of the failed Starlight Express, which was staged in arenas around Oz last year. Holding company of that tour went bankrupt.

Difficult genesis of an Aussie Chess also had now-defunct producer Wilton Morley holding an option on the rights for a number of years, with plans to mount it repeatedly thwarted.

The Gibson/Earle production is now definite. Tim Rice has recently been Down Under working with director Jim Sharman on significant changes to the book. Rice and his Swedish co-writers will be in Sydney to assist in final preparations and to attend the February 3rd, 1990 opening.

Sharman is known for productions in Australia and the West End that include Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Show. He also helmed the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Transcribed for ABBA World

Variety (New York) · 6-12 September 1989 (Page 83)

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