- January 2020
Chess is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, formerly of ABBA, and with lyrics by Tim Rice. The story involves a romantic triangle between two top chess players, an American and a Russian, in a world chess championship, and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other; all in the context of a Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, during which both countries wanted to win international chess tournaments for propaganda purposes. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the character of the American was loosely based on chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer, while elements of the story may have been inspired by the chess careers of Russian grandmasters Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov.
As had been done with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita, a highly successful concept album of Chess was released in 1984. The first theatrical production of Chess opened in London's West End in 1986 and played for three years. A much-altered U.S. version premièred on Broadway in 1988, but survived only for two months. Chess is frequently revised for new productions, many of which try to merge elements from both the London and Broadway versions; however, no major revival production of the musical has yet been attempted either on West End or Broadway.
- December 2019
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart.
Inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus, specifically Pseudolus, Miles Gloriosus and Mostellaria, the musical tells the bawdy story of a slave named Pseudolus and his attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door. The plot displays many classic elements of farce, including puns, the slamming of doors, cases of mistaken identity, and satirical comments on social class. The title derives from the line that vaudeville comedians often used to begin a story: "A funny thing happened on the way to the theater".
The musical's original 1962 Broadway run won several Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book. A Funny Thing has enjoyed several Broadway and West End revivals and was made into a successful film starring the original lead of the musical, Zero Mostel.
- November 2019
The Seagull is the first of what are generally considered to be the four major plays by the Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov. The Seagull was written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. It dramatises the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the famous middlebrow story writer Boris Trigorin, the ingenue Nina, the fading actress Irina Arkadina, and her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Tréplev.
The character of Trigorin is considered Chekhov's greatest male role, though as with the rest of Chekhov's full-length plays, The Seagull relies upon an ensemble cast of diverse, fully developed characters. In contrast to the melodrama of the mainstream theatre of the 19th century, lurid actions are not shown onstage. Characters tend to speak in ways that skirt around issues rather than addressing them directly; in other words, their lines are full of what is known in dramatic practice as subtext, or text that is not spoken aloud.
The opening night of the first production was a famous failure. Vera Komissarzhevskaya, playing Nina, was so intimidated by the hostility of the audience that she lost her voice. Chekhov left the audience and spent the last two acts behind the scenes. When supporters wrote to him that the production later became a success, he assumed that they were merely trying to be kind. When Constantin Stanislavski, the seminal Russian theatre practitioner of the time, directed it in 1898 for his Moscow Art Theatre, the play was a triumph. Stanislavski's production of The Seagull became "one of the greatest events in the history of Russian theatre and one of the greatest new developments in the history of world drama."
- October 2019
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play by William Shakespeare. It is believed that it was written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Hippolyta. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors, who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. The play, categorized as a Comedy, is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.
- November 2018
The Misanthrope, or the Cantankerous Lover is a 17th-century comedy of manners in verse written by Molière. It was first performed on 4 June 1666 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris by the King's Players.
The play satirizes the hypocrisies of French aristocratic society, but it also engages a more serious tone when pointing out the flaws which all humans possess. The play differs from other farces at the time by employing dynamic characters like Alceste and Célimène as opposed to the traditionally flat characters used by most satirists to criticize problems in society. It also differs from most of Molière's other works by focusing more on character development and nuances than on plot progression. The play, though not a commercial success in its time, survives as Molière's best known work today.
Because both Tartuffe and Dom Juan, two of Molière's previous plays, had already been banned by the French government, Molière may have subdued his actual ideas to make his play more socially acceptable. As a result, there is much uncertainty about whether the main character Alceste is supposed to be perceived as a hero for his strong standards of honesty or whether he is supposed to be perceived as a fool for having such idealistic and unrealistic views about society. Molière has received much criticism for The Misanthrope. The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, claimed that it was Molière's best work but hated the fact that Alceste was depicted as a fool on stage. He believed that the audience should be supporting Alceste and his views about society rather than disregarding his idealistic notions and belittling him as a character.