Yorkshire Evening Post 6th March 2012
Checkmate! Actors practise chess skills ahead of theatre run
TWO Leeds actors have been getting in some last-minute chess practice – days before they take to the stage for the biggest game of their lives. Alex Hogg and Fraser Wilkinson, who play Freddie Trumper and Anatoly Sergievsky in Chess at Leeds Grand Theatre, were tutored by members of Leeds Chess Club ahead of next Tuesday’s opening night. The Leeds Amateur Operatic Society (LAOS) musical tells the story of a Russian and an American competing in the World Chess Championships during the Cold War. As reported in the YEP last month, Fraser spent 27 days touring Russia ahead of his role in the show, which runs until March 17. He and Alex practised with chess experts Andy Furnas and Paul Wychrij during a rehearsal at the David Young Community Academy in Seacroft. For more details about Chess or to book tickets,visit www.thelaos.com.
By Suzanne Mctaggert
Yorkshire Evening Post 20th February 2012
Frozen Fraser’s Russian holiday
HOLLYWOOD stars like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt take research for their new roles very seriously. But actor Fraser Wilkinson has taken his preparation to a whole new level – by spending 27 days touring Russia ahead of a new role at Leeds Grand Theatre. Fraser travelled the country on the Trans-Siberian Railway to carry out research for his role as Anatoly Sergievsky in the Leeds Amateur Operatic Society’s (LAOS) production of Chess. The trip took him through the cities of Moscow and St Petersburg and across picturesque snowy landscapes, where he took part in dog sledging and ice slides. Fraser, 32, said: “I was in between jobs and had a few weeks of gardening leave. I’d always dreamed of doing something like this and, with the role coming up, it just seemed like the right time. “I’m so glad I went because it was an absolutely fantastic experience.” Chess is a musical set during the Cold War and tells the story of a Russian – Anatoly – and an American competing in the World Chess Championships, with both countries wanting to win for propaganda purposes. Investment manager Fraser, who lives in Alwoodley, said he learnt a lot about political attitudes in Russia during his four-week visit. He told the YEP: “There’s always a political reason for something happening and, while the Russians are proud and strong and clever, there’s a lot of pressure, and I think that’s how my character feels. “He just wants to concentrate on the chess, but he’s not really being able to do that because of the pressures being put on him.” Fraser now has a few more weeks to prepare for the role in Chess, which runs from March 13 to 17. The actor, who has been a member of LAOS since he graduated from university in 2001, has starred on stage since he was 13. Following his experiences in Russia – during which he rolled around in the snow wearing just swimming trunks and a hat–Fraser said he couldn’t believe how much the UK grinds to a halt with just a few inches of snow. He said: “Our rehearsal was cancelled because of the snow but in Russia, the roads are covered in ice and they’re driving at 60mph. “They just get on with it. Now I’ve seen it, I can’t believe the chaos that happens here just because of a couple of inches of snow.” For more information about Chess or to book tickets for the show, visit www.thelaos.com.
By Suzanne Mctaggert