Waterworks Players holds auditions for Chess

Published 8:02 am Thursday, January 17, 2019

Waterworks Players will hold auditions Jan. 20-21 for its April production of the musical Chess. Based on the book by Richard Nelson, Chess delves into a politically driven, Cold War–era chess tournament between two grandmasters from the United States and the USSR.

Don Blaheta will direct the production that contains music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, the creative half of international pop music legend ABBA, and lyrics by Tim Rice. The story revolves around the romantic triangle that develops when an American chess champion and his lover travel to Europe to defend his title against a Russian opponent who secretly plans to defect to the West.

The principal cast includes the following (with character ages; actor ages may vary):

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* Florence (36). Born in Hungary, orphaned age 4 and now American; Freddie’s chess second. Mezzo-soprano.

* Freddie (30s to early 40s). American chess champion, arrogant and temperamental, but a genius at chess. Rock tenor.

* Anatoly (late 30s to early 50s). The reigning world chess champion. Russian, and proud, but really wants to just play chess. Baritone.

* Molokov (40s to 50s). Anatoly’s chess second. Seems to be a Soviet operative of some sort. Bass.

* Walter (30s to 50s). Freddie’s marketing agent, a true capitalist. Possibly a U.S. operative of some sort. Character baritone.

The supporting cast includes Svetlana (Anatoly’s wife), Gregor (Florence’s father), Nikolai (Molokov’s assistant), the Arbiter (of the chess competition), as well as many ensemble roles.

For the musical part of the audition, prepare 30-60 seconds of a song, similar in style to those from Chess, that demonstrates your vocal quality and range. Shows with similar songs include Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Les Miserables and other “rock opera” musicals from the late 70s and 80s (pop songs such as those from post-disco ABBA may also be appropriate). The song should be at least near-memorized, but if you need a lyric sheet that’s fine. Bring a link to a good karaoke track (ie no vocals) to accompany yourself — we will not have an accompanist at the audition.

Prepare a sentence or two of Russian (fake Russian is totally fine if it sounds good). Anatoly, Molokov, Nikolai, the Arbiter, and several of the ensemble characters have a few lines in Russian and we would like to hear your aptitude at faking short bits of that language. If you prefer, you can also/instead try Hungarian (Gregor and one ensemble character), French (Arbiter and one ensemble character), or German (Arbiter).

After the singing audition and language check, you’ll be asked to do cold readings from the script. There will be no dance call at the audition.

After the cast is announced, there will be one read-through before large group rehearsals begin on Monday, Feb. 18. Waterworks Players will work with you if there is a conflict due to one of the many local February shows.

Shows at Waterworks normally rehearse Sunday through Thursday evenings, although not all cast members will be called each night. Performance dates are April 5-6 and 12-13 in the evenings, plus one afternoon matinee on Sunday, April 7.

Auditions will be at the Waterworks Theatre. For questions contact Waterworks Players directly or post to the audition’s event page on Facebook.