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Nice Move

It's always such a pleasure when freeloading press gets invited to a fundraiser, as the scribbling classes and the philanthropic classes so rarely coincide. Such was the case on a brisk Monday night at the Ford Amphitheatre when an all-star concert presentation of Chess was staged to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. "Concert presentation" misstates the case somewhat, as there was a full orchestra and choir on stage, the cast was comfortably off-book, and the dancing was memorable intricate. I had never seen the show before, but I ran into a friend who has seen it four times, each time featuring a Disney Princess in the cast. This night was no different, as Susan Egan (Belle from the Broadway production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast) lent her chords to the role of Svetlana Sergievsky, abandoned wife of the Russian chess champion.

The beginning was a bit rocky (sound problems, always an issue in these outdoor venues) but the production was kicked firmly into gear with the introduction of Matthew Morrison (The Light in the Piazza) singing "The Arbiter," a physically impressive moment that fairly reeked of Timberlake. The rest of the evening featured powerful singing from the usual suspects (Kevin Earley, Tom Schmid, and in a particularly poignant turn, Cindy Robinson, whose husband was instrumental in creating the evening but who passed away last May) and the extraordinarily muscular choreography of A.C. Ciulla. Kudos, by the way, to the male dancers who, despite the chill in the air, nevertheless embraced the artistic purity of dancing shirtless. Images from this estimable production are available here.

--Wenzel Jones

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