Veteran Chess actor Murray Head, who starred in the original 1986 production in London's West End alongside Elaine Paige and Tommy Körberg and provided the vocals for the 1984 single "One Night in Bangkok" from the Chess concept album, must regretfully step away from his role as The Arbiter in the West End revival due to personal reasons.
Murray Head is to be replaced by American actor Cedric Neal, who is perhaps best known for his role on the US television series Friday Night Lights. Now a UK resident since October 2014, Neal has most recently starred in Motown: The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre where he played Berry Gordy, American record executive and producer. Berry Gordy himself praised Neal's performance saying, "Cedric, you're the best me ever." The producers of Chess couldn't have made a better choice with Cedric Neal.
Chess was written in 1984 by ABBA songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, along with Tim Rice (The Lion King, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar). It follows a chess match between two chess champions, Anatoly and Freddie, who duel against the backdrop of the Cold War era.
Other cast members in the production include famed songstress Alexandra Burke (The Bodyguard Musical, Sister Act The Musical, UK's The X Factor 5th-series winner) as Svetlana, Michael Ball (Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Passion) as Anatoly, Tim Howar (On The Town, Peggy Sue Got Married) as Freddie and Cassidy Janson (Tick Tick Boom, Beautiful) as Florence.
The Chess match begins on 26 April 2018 at the London Coliseum and will run for a limited engagement until 2 June 2018.
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