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What's the appeal?: Chess Edition 
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Post What's the appeal?: Chess Edition
In the same vein as the thread I started in the Secret Garden board
I don't get the appeal of Chess. The plot is confusing
and the songs are unengaging. I'm sure I'm missing something so please fill me in on why the show is enjoyable.

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:37 pm
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Post Re: What's the appeal?: Chess Edition
Well, it's a matter of personal taste, obviously, but the score is very melodic. I think it shows an abundance of melodic inventiveness. It combines the catchy simplicity of ABBA hits with the ambition of something grander, musically, as the theatrical format allows more experimentation and development than single song formats usually do. Just the counterpoint bliss of The story of Chess and Quartet (which are the same tune, really) and other parts of the score are exceptionally rewarding to listen to because they feel like a puzzle that solves itself for our ears. Pastiche songs, like Embassy Lament,, Merano, The Merchendisers and The Soviet Machine are representative of a musical sense of humour I enjoy.

I think Chess opens the opportunity to include "pop hits" that doesn't really belong on the pop charts, like rather beautiful but mostly uncommercial pop gem Where I Want To Be (etc).

I also think that the lyrics are very playful and engaging. I like the neatness of lyrics like Someone Else's Story and The Story of Chess, and I like the cheeky playfulness of lyrics like One Night in Bangkok and US vs USSR. There are also monumental set pieces of music, like the End Game, that employs a really enjoyable language, full of quirky works that shows a fondness of language (though not always a stringent attitude towards meaning), which in a way enriches the text.

The basic flaws of the piece is in my opinion something one cannot solve without throwing the baby out with the bathing water. It is a feature Chess shares with famous flops like Allegro! and Anyone Can Whistle. Being a musicals enthusiast, I actually must confess that this has a certain appeal for me. One can discuss and debate Chess forever and ever, because every solustion one comes up with for it's flaws creates new problems to be solved - or makes the piece less interesting.

I do still think that the creative team made a lot of idiotic errors making Chess (like following a strategy where "the story should follow the music", which resulted in a second act with wonderful music but a plot that only barely makes sense), that the lyrics are often weirdly constructed (so that they follow the music awkwardly), and that it tries to say too much about too much. But for me, Chess is a musical that, moreso than my two other childhood lovestory musicals Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera, I return to again and again, fascinated by it's great music, intriguing texts, almost impossibly contrived plot and irresistably flawed concept.

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Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:48 am
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