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Song Discussion: "The Story of Chess" 
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Post Song Discussion: "The Story of Chess"
My exposure to this song actually began with a very different show. I did Run Crew for a production of 'The Lion In Winter', and this song began every performance. I didn't even realize it was from CHESS until several months later. But beyond that, I love how flowing and mellow the melody is; it has an almost zenlike quality that instantly calms you (or maybe that's just the effect it has on me). Thoughts on this great song?

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Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:43 pm
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Tony Winner
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The music is very distinctive and the lyrics are pure Tim Rice - you will either love them or hate them depending on your view of him.

I'm not sure it's indispensible to the show (you could cut it and the show would still work just as well), it's also probably too long, and the music is used again anyway, but it's clever and it does make a good introduction.

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Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:54 am
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jackrussell wrote:
The music is very distinctive and the lyrics are pure Tim Rice - you will either love them or hate them depending on your view of him.

I'm not sure it's indispensible to the show (you could cut it and the show would still work just as well), it's also probably too long, and the music is used again anyway, but it's clever and it does make a good introduction.

As for length: I don't think it's a coincidence that the Broadway, Sydney and Stockholm versions of the show all start off with the song shortened in the exact same way. It definitely works better that way.

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It is a hard number to place, because the number has no dramatic action in relation to the narrative. In that sense, it is dispensable. It's more like an end credits song than anything else.

In the theatre, it doesn't work well at the top of the show at all.

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Well, that would depend on the script. The Broadway version used it in a very good manner. It was very enchanting to hear Gregor Vassy sing to Florence right before he leaves to join the uprising.

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Sat Aug 01, 2009 5:28 am
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High-baritonne wrote:
Well, that would depend on the script. The Broadway version used it in a very good manner. It was very enchanting to hear Gregor Vassy sing to Florence right before he leaves to join the uprising.

It's kind of a pain in the neck for amateur productions though - you need to wrangle a child actress for literally two lines in one scene. Not that the scene isn't good theatre, but it's sort of a drag on the casting.

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Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:47 am
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RainbowJude wrote:
It is a hard number to place, because the number has no dramatic action in relation to the narrative.


Didn't you use to be of the totally opposite opinion? That it is some sort of mise-en-abyme, like The Dance At The Gym in WSS or Good Thing Going from MWRA?

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Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:50 am
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Tony Winner
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I think you have to see it as a mise-en-abyme for it to have any point at all, but it's not easy, except for the opening line perhaps. It doesn't even (contrary to the last verse) explain the appeal of the game very well - you can happily enjoy the game of chess without knowing any of that.

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Sun Aug 02, 2009 2:48 am
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Post Re:
Cadriel wrote:
As for length: I don't think it's a coincidence that the Broadway, Sydney and Stockholm versions of the show all start off with the song shortened in the exact same way. It definitely works better that way.


How exactly is it shortened? What lyrics are excised?


Cadriel wrote:
It's kind of a pain in the neck for amateur productions though - you need to wrangle a child actress for literally two lines in one scene. Not that the scene isn't good theatre, but it's sort of a drag on the casting.


Couldn't the child be worked into other scenes as Ensemble?

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Fri Nov 25, 2011 12:20 pm
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Post Re: Re:
Apples2for10 wrote:
Cadriel wrote:
As for length: I don't think it's a coincidence that the Broadway, Sydney and Stockholm versions of the show all start off with the song shortened in the exact same way. It definitely works better that way.


How exactly is it shortened? What lyrics are excised?

The song ends after "They thus invented chess." You can hear it on the OBC or Chess På Svenska.

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Cadriel wrote:
It's kind of a pain in the neck for amateur productions though - you need to wrangle a child actress for literally two lines in one scene. Not that the scene isn't good theatre, but it's sort of a drag on the casting.


Couldn't the child be worked into other scenes as Ensemble?

Not particularly. The ensemble in Broadway are primarily playing reporters and various participants and hangers-on in the chess match. There are no lines or vocal parts for a young child, and it would seem awkward if the girl from the beginning were onstage.

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