Signature Theatre kicks off its fall season off with the first major production Chess in nearly 20 years and, while some elements feel just a bit undone, it's a bold choice that delivers genuine rewards. And if you've not seen the musical before, it may very well surprise you. For example, all the songs in Chess were written by Tim Rice and a couple of musicians by the names Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson -- better known as half of the band ABBA. The sound is unmistakable. Think carefully coordinated harmonies and big, showy instrumentals. More musically complicated than what has come to be thought of as a "rock musical" and bearing all of the regalia of the time when it was written, the project could have landed onstage like a Pet Rock. Fortunately, that's not the case. Chess is bright, engaging and full of queens (and kings and pawns and songs) that will, in fact, excite you.' FOUR STARS. Closes this Sunday, Oct. 3. Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Tickets $55 to $81. Call 703-820-9771 or visit signature-theatre.org.
Read Tom Avila's full review here.