With a week to go before opening night, the leads in the Dannevirke Theatre Company's production of Chess the Musical, are making all the right moves.

Ben Jones from Palmerston North is Anatoly Sergievsky and although he hasn't appeared in Chess before, he has plenty of stage experience.

"This is a great opportunity to sing with Val [Andrew]," he said. "Working with an 18-piece orchestra in this production means timing is everything."

Ben had a role in Dannevirke's co-production of Oliver with Paul Lyons who was Mr Bumble in the same show.


This is the third time Lyons has appeared in Chess and his second time as Alexander Molokov. He was Molokov 22 years ago in Chess when Melissa Martin was lead dancer. Miss Martin is the director of the Dannevirke production.

"He's got a great Russian voice and singing voice," his fellow leads said.

Val, Florence Vassy, is from Feilding and was in a Palmerston North production of Chess in 2012.

"I love the music," she said. "This is the third show Ben and I have appeared in together."

Val starred in the Abbey Musical Theatre's Mamma Mia! in Palmerston North late last year and scooped the award for best female actor for her role as Donna Sheridan, in the Globe Theatre awards earlier this year.

Taking the role of Frederick Trumper in Chess is Dannevirke's Nathan Davis, the senior sergeant of the Tararua Police.

He first stepped on to the stage for the Dannevirke Theatre Company as the lead in last year's Seussical.

"I'd just turned up to the theatre to collect my children and the next minute I had a script in my hand and was on stage," he said. "A show like Chess is full on and I do it because I have trouble saying no.

"But it's good to go outside your comfort zone, although I do find it terrifying."

Mr Davis said the theatre was a good opportunity to get away from the pressure of his day job.

"I spent a bit of time in my patrol car with Chess going full volume and the windows up as I'm driving down High St," he said.

"This is musically very challenging, but it's my growth zone and something different. I thought this would be a lot of work and it is."

Dannevirke's Davina Graeme is The Arbiter.

"I fell in love with Chess in high school in 1988 when John Botting was teaching there," she said. "I've been playing a Chess CD for 25 years."

The role of Svetlana Sergievsky is challenging, admits Dannevirke's Destine Greatbatch.

"But I'm really loving singing the songs I knew growing up," she said.

Jonny Max, Walter de Courcey, has been hooked on theatre since 2010 when he took part in Les Miserables.

"I'm a bit star-struck at the moment, being on stage with these guys," he said.

Musical treat:

* The Dannevirke Theatre Company's production of Chess the Musical, opens on Friday, April 15 at the Dannevirke Town Hall and runs through until April 23. Tickets available from the Information Centre or TicketDirect 0800 224 224. Tables downstairs for up to six people with one complimentary drink. Platters are also available to purchase.