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What to do about Freddie? 
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Young Hoofer
Young Hoofer
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Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:06 pm
Posts: 23
Main Role: Performer
Post What to do about Freddie?
The more I've gotten into Chess and listened to the staggering number of different versions, the more I've come to generally prefer the shows based on the London version over the others. I think that the show works best when largely through-composed, and I think the London Act I, while not perfect, is just about as good as you can get.

However, Act II absolutely needs some work, and I feel that the show's treatment of Freddie is largely to blame - for several different reasons.

For starters, there is the split-match vs single-match problem, which basically boils down to this - if Anatoly plays Viigand in Endgame, then Freddie's motivations are a bit muddled and inconsistent - what is he really doing there? Trying to get revenge on Anatoly and Florence - no wait, he's trying to help Florence now. Oh hold on - he still loves Florence but wants Anatoly to lose! Yeah, that must be it - oh, no, wait, now he's telling Anatoly he has to win. O_o He then completely disappears after Endgame, with no resolution to his character.

The single-match versions of the London score don't fare any better. It causes all sorts of problems with some of Act II's most memorable numbers - most especially "The Deal" and "Endgame." If Freddie is playing in the final match, it seems unlikely that he would take any steps to persuade Anatoly to intentionally throw the match - it would be out of character for him as a chess purist. Also, even in versions of "Endgame" that *add* material for Freddie, it tends to woefully underrepresent what's going on with him, features lyrics which are just plain terrible in my opinion (e.g. "So he's gonna fight the situation / Where's my appetite for concentration" and "At last! He's made a mistake!"), and takes away from our understanding of Anatoly's psychological state at the time - for example, replacing the chilling moment of truth between Anatoly and Svetlana ("And every poisoned word shows that you never understood-" "Liar!" "Never!") with mere commentary on things which are pretty obvious to any audience member who is paying attention ("The final stages of a soul-destroying game / The sacrifice of something I will never find again-" "Check!" "Never!").

I feel like if the single-match format is used, "Endgame" needs some heavy editing to make it not just about Anatoly, but about Freddie as well. After being a main character for the entire show, Freddie ends up (in most single-match variations of the London score) no more important/involved in what's going on than Viigand would be in the split-match version. Either way, I like "Endgame" as the psychological piece that it was in the original London score - I just wish that Freddie fit into it better!

Past musical roles:
Dickon, The Secret Garden
Josh Baskin, Big: The Musical
Freddy, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Franz/Dennis, Sunday in the Park with George
Frederic, The Pirates of Penzance
Historian/others, Spamalot

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