The original Broadway production of Chess opened at the Imperial Theatre April 28, 1988. The production, directed by Trevor Nunn, played 17 previews and 68 performances before closing on June 25, earning Best Actor and Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award nominations for David Carroll and Judy Kuhn’s performances as Anatoly and Florence, respectively.
Based on an idea by Tim Rice, Chess tells the story of American and Russian chess champions playing a match against each other—and competing for the same woman—at the height of the Cold War. The musical featured music by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeu with lyrics by Rice and book by Richard Nelson.
In addition to Carroll and Kuhn, Chess starred Philip Casnoff as Freddie, Gina Gallagher as Young Florence, Harry Goz as Molokov, Paul Harman as the Arbiter, Marcia Mitzman as Svetlana, and Dennis Parlato as Walter. Rounding out the cast were Neal Ben-Ari, Kurt Johns, Eric Johnson, Richard Muenz, John Aller, Suzanne Briar, Steve Clemente, Katherine Lynne Condit, Ann Crumb, David Cryer, R. F. Daley, Deborah Geneviere, Paul Laureano, Rosemary Loar, Judy McLane, Jessica Molaskey, Kip Niven, Francis Ruivivar, Alex Santoriello, and Wysandria Woolsey.
The production featured scenic design by Robin Wagner, costume design by Theoni V. Aldredge, lighting design by David Hersey, and sound design by Andrew Bruce with stage management by Alan Hall, Jake Bell, Zane Weiner, and Ruth E. Rinklin. Visit the Playbill Vault for the complete cast and creative team.
The show was revived at the Kennedy Center in 2018 featuring Tony Award winners Ruthie Ann Miles and Karen Olivo and Tony Award nominees Raúl Esparza and Ramin Karimloo.