My position on musicals is, in a nutshell: 'unless written by Peter Townshend, they're all shit.' It's not a very nuanced critical perspective, I concede. Anyway, I downloaded Chess -- the Royal Albert Hall 2008 version -- and, mirabile, I seem to be liking it a lot. Partly this is for the very reasons many reviewers hated it on Broadway (according to Wikipedia: 'critics panned the show, most notably Frank Rich of The New York Times, who wrote that "the evening has the theatrical consistency of quicksand" and described it as "a suite of temper tantrums, [where] the characters ... yell at one another to rock music".' Luckily, quicksand temper-tantrum yelling music is my favourite kind). There are some wonderfully strange moments, necessitated, in part, by the need to inject dramatic excitement into that most undramatic of spectacles, two brainy guys sitting across a chessboard from one another. My favourite is probably 'The Arbiter's Song' and 'The Arbiter's Song (reprise)' where the match-referee in effect sings 'I am the match referee' for about seven minutes. Marvellous.
But mostly I suppose I like this because its music, by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, tastes strongly of Abba, and Abba is intensely loveable stuff.