CCM proudly presents the acclaimed rock opera Chess as the next installment in this year’s Mainstage Series. Featuring music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (of the Swedish rock group ABBA) with lyrics by Golden Globe, Tony, Grammy and Academy Award-winner Tim Rice (of Jesus Christ SuperstarEvitaThe Lion King and more), Chess has what Time magazine calls “one of the best rock scores ever produced.” Directed by Aubrey Berg with musical direction by Stephen Goers, choreography by Diane Lala, scenic design by Mark Halpin and costumes by Rebecca SenskeChess runs Oct. 25-28 in UC’s Corbett Auditorium.

Set in Bangkok and Budapest during the World Chess Championship of 1972, Chess uses the board game as a metaphor for the Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, with each superpower vying to win international tournaments for purposes of propaganda. The romantic triangle between two young grand masters – an American and a Russian – and the woman who manages one and falls in love with the other, forms the heart of this intriguing tale.

“The setting for Chess is abstract – a chessboard on which the action plays out,” explains Aubrey Berg, CCM’s Patricia A. Corbett Distinguished Chair of Musical Theatre and the director of this production. “Though the protagonists feel they are acting independently, they are ultimately revealed as pawns in a greater power struggle.”

This concept also spoke to scenic designer Mark Halpin, a visiting assistant professor of scenic design at CCM. “I tried to suggest a world that is inhabited mostly by people who engage with things on a logical, intellectual level,” Halpin says. “The shapes and forms are repetitive, cold and cerebral, and it’s when peoples’ emotions clash with that world that things get interesting.”

Several songs from Chess have become international hits, with “One Night in Bangkok” reaching Number 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the duet “I Know Him So Well,” holding the No. 1 spot on the U.K. singles charts for four weeks.

Junior Aubrey Ireland plays Florence Vassy, the woman desperately caught between Freddie (the American) and Anatoly (the Russian) in this double-cast production. “The score to Chess is absolutely stunning,” Ireland says. “It has the perfect blend of moving power ballads and gut-wrenching emotions that play so well on stage.” The original Florence was played by long-time British pop star Elaine Paige and Ireland feels fortunate that she’s able to perform “such an epic piece.”

Of the dramatic elements of Chess, Berg says, “The action plays out in a world of spies, counter-agents and super-powers vying for supremacy.”

Senior Josh Tolle, one of two CCM students playing Freddie, echoes this fantastic theme: “They’ve really turned Corbett Auditorium into the set of a James Bond film. If you want to see a show where people are forced to combat the circumstances they’ve been given, fight hard for love even when it may be a losing game and pick up all of the pieces against all odds, this is a night for you.”

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25
  • 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26
  • 2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28

Corbett Auditorium, College-Conservatory of Music
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Chess are $30 for adults, $19 for non-UC students, $17 for UC students with $12 student rush tickets available for the Saturday matinee beginning at 1 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at

Subscription packages are also still available for CCM’s 2012-13 Mainstage Series. For more information on CCM’s Mainstage Series subscription options, visit

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit for more information on parking rates.

For directions to CCM Village, visit

Chess Cast List

  • Greg Kamp (Senior from Alpharetta, Ga.) as Gregor Vassy
  • Claire Northcut (Fourth grade student from Mason, Ohio) as Young Florence
  • Max Clayton (Junior from Manchester, N.H.) as The Arbiter
  • Blaine Krauss (Junior from St. Petersburg, Fla.) as Freddie Trumper, the American*
  • Josh Tolle (Senior from Pittsburgh, Pa.) as Freddie Trumper, the American ^
  • Aubrey Irelandm (Junior from Leawood, Kan.) as Florence Vassy, his second*
  • Kelsey Crismon (Senior from Hanoverton, Ohio) as Florence Vassy, his second^
  • Kate McMillan (Senior from Goldsboro, N.C.) as Walters, his agent
  • Dane C. Becker (Junior from Sarasota, Fla.) as Ben, CIA personnel
  • Julian R. Decker (Junior from Erie, Pa.) as Anatoly Sergievsky, the Russian*
  • Matthew Paul Hill (Junior from Los Gatos, Calif.) as Anatoly Sergievsky, the Russian^
  • Kathryn Boswell (Senior from Duncanville, Texas) as Svetlana, his estranged wife*
  • Jennifer Hickman (Junior from Satellite Beach, Fla.) as Svetlana, his estranged wife^
  • Collin Kessler (Junior from Overland Park, Kan.) as Molokov, his manager
  • Nathaniel Irvin (Sophomore from Minneapolis, Minn.) as Nikolai, KGB personnel
  • Stephanie Cain (Junior from Leawood, Kan.) as The Arbiter’s Assistant
  • Charlie Meredith (Sophomore from Overland Park, Kan.) as The Arbiter’s Assistant
  • Emily Schexnaydre (Junior from Gonzales, La.) as The Arbiter’s Assistant
  • Christine Cornish Smith (Senior from Dallas, Texas) as The Arbiter’s Assistant
  • Josh S. Smith (Senior from New Orleans, La.) as The Arbiter’s Assistant
  • Katie Wesler (Junior from Birmingham, Ala.) as The Arbiter’s Assistant
  • Max Clayton (Junior from Manchester, N.H.) as Golden Bangkok
  • Christine Cornish Smith (Senior from Dallas, Texas) as Golden Bangkok
  • Ensemble: Dane C. Becker, Sarah Bishop, Jen Brissman, Stephanie Cain, Chris Collins-Pisano, Jordan De Leon, Hannah Freeman, Eric Geil, Catherine Helm, Tyler Huckstep, Greg Kamp, Thomas Knapp, John McGill, Charlie Meredith, Chris Morrissey, Kaela O’Connor, Stephanie Park, DJ Plunkett, Emily Schexnaydre, Dylan Shubert, Christine Cornish Smith, Josh Smith, Madeleine Spacapan, Emily Trumble, Katie Wesler
  • Chessmen: John Battagliese, Erik Hernandez, Nate Riccio, Adam Zeph

* “Cast Armageddon” performs Oct. 26 and 27 at 2 p.m.
^ “Cast Sudden Death” performs Oct. 25 and 27 at 8 p.m. and 28 at 2 p.m.

Armageddon: a game which White must win in order to take the match, but which Black only needs to draw to win. White has more time than Black: 5 minutes for White, 4 minutes for Black, plus 3 seconds increment from Move 6.

Sudden Death: the most straightforward time control for a chess game in which each player has a fixed amount of time available to make all moves measured by a chess clock. A time control can require either a certain number of moves be made per time period or it can limit the length of the entire game.

Chess Production Team

  • Aubrey Berg, director
  • Stephen Goers, musical director
  • Diane Lala, choreographer
  • Mark Halpin, scenic designer
  • Reba Senske, costume designer
  • Daniel Townsend, wig & make-up designer
  • Alan Hanson, lighting designer
  • Chuck Hatcher, sound designer
  • Steve Miller, technical director
  • Casey Hagwood, stage manager

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor & Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s


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