Musical magic can be conjured from the least likely of settings, and a Cold War love triangle with the backdrop of an international chess tournament didn’t get anyone’s blood racing until the combined talents of Tim Rice and the boys from Abba took up the project.

Since it made its debut in 1986 Chess, best known for the hit singles One Night In Bangkok and I Know Him So Well, has been a winner with audiences all over the world.

The musical with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson was described by one critic as “one of the best rock scores ever produced in the theatre.”

It has been performed both as a full-blown musical drama and a concert, and it’s a semi-staged version which will be at Hitchin’s Woodside Hall next week.

Roger Burton of Hitchin Thespians promises that although it’s semi-staged it is a fully entertaining show, with a four-day run which begins next Wednesday, April 13.

The show runs until Saturday and starts at 7.45pm each evening.

Tickets are £12.50, available from 01462 641575 or by visiting the webiste at

Roger said: “Chess uses the game of chess as a metaphor for the universal conflicts in love and life as well as global strife and the desire for a peaceful coexistence.

“From Bangkok to Budapest, the players, lovers, politicians, and spies all struggle to get the upper-hand.

Leading the production team are director Ian Hamilton – a long-time member of the company whose most recent directorial duties were directed at Godspell – with Hannah Long taking on the musical director duties.

Hannah, who has come to the Hitchin company from Royston, is both a hugely talented singer and conductor.

The cast features the acting and vocal talents of Wes Hughes as boorish American chess ace Freddie, Kier Home as his Russian adversary and Gina Abbatt as the woman they both put the moves on.

Also taking principal roles are Barbara Thomas, Phillippa Bayfield, Mike Barker, and Jonathan Fletcher.

And their efforts will be enhanced by an eight-piece pop choir, a large concert choir, and dancers.

“This is the first time that Hitchin Thespians have combined their very competent concert choir with a staged production,” said Roger.

“Blending all of these together, you have a big sound and dramatic movement that is guaranteed to entertain audiences of all ages!”