FUSE Productions kicks off musical season with ‘Chess’

PHOTO PROVIDED Shown are Natalie Weiss (Florence) and Matthew Hydzik (Freddie) during rehearsals for “Chess.”

STATE COLLEGE — It may be difficult to believe that the fate of the world may possibly hinge on the outcome of a game. But that is exactly one of the premises that drives “Chess.”

FUSE Productions presents area premiere of the rock musical “Chess” at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 13, 14 and 15 in Schwab Auditorium on Pollack Road behind Old Main on Penn State’s University Park campus.

“Chess” is the kickoff attraction of FUSE Productions three musical 2018-19 “season.” Producing artistic director Richard Biever announces that following “Chess,” FUSE Productions will present “Sunday In The Park With George” and “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

An allegory for the Cold War tensions, “Chess” tells the tale of two grandmasters — one American and the other Russian — and the woman who manages one but falls for the other. Both are really pawns in the propaganda game waged by their governments. “All of the political games of the Cold War are played on top of the chess game,” notes Biever.

Inspired by the classic 1972 Bobbie Fischer and Boris Spasskey match, this complex musical features a narrator of sorts, called the Arbiter, who explains and comments on the romantic fixations and rivalries between the competing chess combatants.

First released as a concept album in 1984, “Chess” is a sung-through rock musical from the acclaimed team of Tim Rice and ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. A tune from the rousing score, “One Night In Bangkok,” rose nearly to the top of America’s pop hit charts when released as a single.

“The score is phenomenal,” said FUSE founder Richard Biever, who also directs this production. “There is an amazing variety of music.”

In addition to a 16 piece orchestra and an off-stage choir, the show features a cast of 20 performers.

Alex Shield is music director, with Connor Weigand serving as the show’s choreographer.

The cast is headed by a trio of New York based performers and Penn State University School of Theater alumni.

Matthew Hydzik, plays the manic-depressive American Frederick Trumper, with Kevin Toniazzo-Naughton as the Russian champion Anatoly, and Natalie Weiss (a former “American Idol” contestant) as Florence, the Hungarian refugee, who becomes the apex in a love triangle.

Featured players and the ensemble include other Penn State faculty and students, community actors, and professionals, some of whom are members of the Actors Equity Association.

For more information or tickets, call 814-380-8672 or visit http:/fuseproductions.thundertix.org

The production is recommended for those 12 years and older.