Several media outlets have now published their reviews of Chess at the Kennedy Center and, unsurprisingly, Raul gets high praise.
"Raúl Esparza, is back in musical-theatre-land and the gods rejoice. He brings a layered sensitivity to the tempestuous Trumper... “Pity the Child #3” is a heartbreaking and captivating portrait of a man on the brink. His rock tenor is unparalleled."
Esparza, scaling up into the peak of his register, rocks out blazingly...
Esparza [is] passionately driven in [his] approach to the character, delivering raw, unadulterated emotional expression in [his] various solos. [He] annihilates “Pity The Child #3”, his featured solo in the third act, where the world unwinds from within his soul.
Raul Esparza was born to play the brash, maverick of an American chess grandmaster Freddie Trumper. [He] conveys Freddie’s devil-may-care, f***-the-Russians attitude with ease; his supple rock-tenor singing style is also the prime vehicle for songs such as “Pity the Child” (which is now woven throughout his arc) and the sexy production number “One Night in Bangkok.
There are however a couple of issues that seem to be recurring. One is the balance of sound between the orchestra and performers – the higher tenor notes are sometimes drowned out by the instruments. This may just be a product of where and how the concert has been staged. We’re sure, if it transfers to Broadway, this will be an issue that is easy to iron out.
The other issue is with the story. This is a problem that has afflicted Chess since it’s very inception. The score is phenomenal, the casts have been amazing, but the story – a mixture of chess and politics set during the cold war - is viewed as boring by some and convoluted and complicated by others.
The new book by Danny Strong has addressed some of this. The expanded role of the Arbiter as a narrator, adding exposition does help to keep track of what is going on and explain some of the complexities. And sprinkled throughout are some sharp one-liners that have the audience laughing away.
Given that it hasn’t had been staged on Broadway in 30 years and the stellar cast who are signed on, it seems likely that Chess may have a Broadway transfer in it’s future. Should the cast wish to/are able to stay on that is - Ruthie Ann Miles is currently 6 months pregnant and others in the company may have commitments that can’t be re-arranged.
Whatever happens, we have our fingers crossed that Raul will find his way back onto the stage on Broadway somehow - a place he clearly adores and where he feels at home.
Did you see the show? Let us know what you thought in the comments.
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