Chess in concert


Saturday I had a date with Jamie to a) see her and Eric’s fancy new digs; b) meet Magellen and Ozness; c) hang out with her, Eric and Dan; and, most importantly, d) watch the DVD of the 2009 Chess concert starring Josh Groban, Idina Menzel and Adam Pascal.

Jamie just had four wisdom teeth pulled from her face the day before, so she remained extremely intimate with a frozen bag of Lima beans for most of the evening. But we made due and made fun* of one of the most ridiculously staged filmed concert musicals I’ve seen in recent memory.

(*Much to Eric’s chagrin. He kept touting something about “the sociopolitical undertones” of the show. And then I would see Idina with her hands in the pockets of her ugly pattern dress wailing about someone not being on another person’s side, and I wondered if we were watching the same show.)

I kid!

Not really.

Anyway. Idina Menzel is a train wreck, and I don’t get the appeal of her as a performer at. all. Yes, there are moments where she can sing, but usually when those moments happen, she undermines it by making a horrid face of some sort. Actually, this sort:


While that’s not a screen capture from the Chess concert (it’s from her execrable performance at the Kennedy Center last year honoring Barbra Streisand), it’s representative of what we were subjected to every three minutes.

And sometimes she just seems to entirely forget she’s onstage in a performance.

Josh Groban has a very pretty voice, and “Anthem” was a great demonstration of his vocal gifts. However, he has the acting range of my Caps Lock key.

Adam Pascal really surprised me. Aside from his awesome pecs, he has a unique voice, and the fact that his character in Chess is kind of a sell-out bastard works in his favor.

Let’s not even discuss the video sequences and graphic overlays. Were they made by a high school graphic arts student using Adobe Dimension?

There were some dancers, too, who executed a lot of lifts in flowey outfits. However, I’m not quite sure if they actually were dancing, as the hyper-cut edits wouldn’t allow me to focus on much of anything, aside from closeups of Kerry Ellis’ bad dye job and Idina’s pocketdress.

And now: our make-believe menu items from the Chess viewing party:

  • Time Rice Crispy Treats
  • Pita the Child
  • One Night in Bangkoktails (we had these, but they were actually White Russians. Ha!)
  • Idina Menzel Pretzel Chips
  • Josh Grobran Muffins!
  • Mountain “Dew-et”

8 thoughts on “Chess in concert

  1. I had to look up “execrable.” My caps lock key has surprising range. I’m heading home to make Pita the Child.

  2. You are dead on with your review. I found it quite painful to watch and I have had lots of dental work done, so I know something about pain.

  3. Heh, no chagrin here, I expected it hence the title of the event including both “Musical Snobs” and the phrase “Jamie and Bob versus Chess in Concert”. I loved Josh Groban, appropriately disliked Adam Pascal but still don’t understand the appeal of Idina Menzel either (get your freaking hands out of your pockets already!) I can’t quite decide which was worse: the absolutely horrible “staging” or the absolutely atrocious cinematography. Seriously people, it’s supposed to be a CONCERT (hence Josh Groban), not some kind of staged reading (appallingly staged) with backup dancers. One correction: never once did I use the word “undertones”. Undertones implies subtlety. Tim Rice has all of the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

  4. I, uh, kinda dig Idina, though I can’t articulate why. I think it might just be repeated exposure. But I confess I only fast-forwarded to one or two songs in this “Chess” I wanted to see, and skipped the rest, so I can’t really have a valid opinion of it.

  5. Julia and Sutton and Pascal and Raul Esparza. Sounds like *that* was the concert that should have been released on DVD.

    Kerry Ellis was very good.

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