Murray Head, who starred in the original West End production of Chess, will return to the London stage as the Arbiter in the English National Opera revival of that musical, which runs April 26–May 1 at the London Coliseum.
The cast will also feature Olivier Award-winning actor Michael Ball (Aspects of Love, Les Misérables) as Anatoly, Alexandra Burke (X-Factor, The Bodyguard) as Svetlana, Mike + the Mechanics lead singer and West End star Tim Howar as Freddie, and Cassidy Janson (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) as Florence.
Head recorded the role of American chess champion Freddie Trumper on the original 1984 double-LP concept recording of Chess, landing a hit single with the radio release of “One Night in Bangkok.” He returned to originate the role onstage when the musical made its West End debut in 1986.
Laurence Connor (School of Rock, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables) will direct with choreography by Stephen Mear. The five-week engagement will feature the English National Opera’s award-winning Orchestra and Chorus.
A separate U.S. mounting of Chess is currently running at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
The musical, written in 1984 by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King, Evita), tells a story of love and political intrigue, set against the background of the Cold War in the late 1970s-early 1980s, in which superpowers attempt to manipulate an international chess championship for political ends. Songs include "I Know Him So Well," "One Night in Bangkok," "Anthem," "Someone Else’s Story," and "Pity The Child."
Michael Linnit and Michael Grade produce the revival along with ENO.