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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Final Move in a Long Game... Chess at Walterdale opens Wednesday!

Where have I been? Well, for the last 11 weeks or so, I have been in rehearsal for Chess at Walterdale. It's a complicated show with a lot of moving pieces, gorgeous but challenging music, and a cast of 23+3 (we have 3 young ladies playing Young Florence). I have been blessed with a wonderful cast - I do not know how many times the creative team has said to ourselves, "We really cast some very nice people" - and that doesn't always happen (but I will not tell any tales now). Tonight is the 2nd and final Preview, with Opening Night on Wednesday, July 6th. Last night proved that they just needed an audience as it came even more alive with the reactions from the house. 

Chess is a show that I have wanted to do for a long time. I probably wasn't ready until a few years ago. The music is some of my all-time favourite and we have been blessed with a terrific cast who can really do it justice. I can thank Sally Hunt, our Music Director, for making sure that's looked after. She has also assembled a tight, talented band, to accompany our cast. We also have a cast who is not only super-nice as I mentioned earlier, but they are talented and dedicated to telling this story as excellently as possible. They have embraced everything asked of them, from Bethany Hughes' inventive choreography to the challenging score to caring about a fictional game or 3 of chess! I feel blessed as a director. 

Why Chess? The music is first and foremost why I wanted to do it. It is what brings most people to this story initially. But the story is also compelling.  Perhaps it's because I was a child of the 80's - a teenager during the worst of the Cold War - that I get what these global politics are about. Perhaps it is the comment made about excusing the bad behaviour of the supremely talented that made me think it's still a very relevant story. Perhaps it is because I think we still draw so many invisible lines between countries today - maybe not US vs. USSR, but we certainly see the xenophobia alive and well today directed at cultures that are different. I love that Chess shows us the humans behind the labels.  It asks us to look beyond our prejudices and national identities and see the people. At least that's what it does for me. 

Anyhow, it has been a joyful journey and I am so excited to share it. Hopefully you will be able to check it out. Chess runs July 6th - 16th at Walterdale Playhouse (shows at 8 pm and 2 pm on Sunday). You can get your tickets at or 780.420.1757 or gamble at the door 1 hour prior to show start. Several nights are already very close to selling out so don't wait!

Florence (Lauren Pearson) and Anatoly (Todd Hauck)
Freddie (Matt Boisvert) and Anatoly (Todd Hauck)
Photo Credit: Jessica Poole

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