Chess in Concert


“Dazzling score covers nearly all the pop bases” Rolling Stone Magazine

“Gift-wrapped and gorgeous…compels admiration,” The Daily Telegraph


February 9, 10 at 7:30 pm and February 11 at 2:00 pm
Coralville Center for the Performing Arts

From the minds behind ABBA and The Lion King comes CHESS, a Grandmaster of a Show. The pawns in this dramatic rock opera form a love triangle: the brash American chess star, the earnest Russian champion, and the manager who is torn between them. Follow the machinations and manipulations from Italy to Bangkok in this staged concert, performed in front a massive orchestra and thrilling chorus.

Directed by Mark Baer
Musical Direction by Jessica Palmer


Buy Tickets

Cast List

Spotlight on Hunger Campaign


Meet Becca Bauer

Minsu Song: University of Iowa – Becca Bauer is certainly no stranger to the stage. Over the past 15 years, Becca has been a part of over 30 productions in Minnesota, Arizona, and Iowa. Some of her favorite roles have been: Rona/Olive’s mom in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, Mrs. Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors, and Widow Corney in Oliver! A nursing student at the University of Iowa, Becca performed in her first City Circle show last year—Annie Get Your Gun—and will next be seen in City Circle’s Little Women in the role of Meg March.

Fast Facts on Becca: 

  • She loves Harry Potter, Hurt’s Donuts, and driving around Iowa City belting show tunes with her friends.
  • One of her many dream roles is the dual role of Eve/Mama Noah in Children of Eden—a production she was in the chorus of as a child.
  • She has toe thumbs.

Meet City Circle Newcomer Amanda Hauta

Minsu Song: University of Iowa – Amanda Hauta’s love for theatre stems from her childhood. Her parents very much cultivated her passion for theatre by helping to create puppet shows for Amanda and the other neighborhood children. In college, she went on to study opera. One of her favorite productions she has been on stage in is Suor Angelica. Last winter, Amanda was asked to play accordion in the pit orchestra for Fiddler on the Roof here at City Circle, and now she is back to join us in Chess in Concert!

Fast Facts on Amanda:

  • She and her husband Nolan have a six-month-old son, Hugo. Together, they like to camp, play music, sing, take walks (in nicer weather!), read, practice yoga, watch TV, and eat unhealthy foods.
  • Her dream role is the eponymous character in the Puccini opera Tosca because of her passion and the fact that she is a participant in her own story: “She makes choices. She acts and is not merely acted upon.”
  • She has trained her cats to sit, shake, play dead, roll over, and go through weave poles. Video is available on request for anyone who doubts.

Little Women Has Been Cast!

Cast List

Jo March-  Victoria Vaughn
Marmee March- Rebecca Fields-Moffitt
Meg March- Rebecca Bauer
Beth March- Lauren Rude
Younger Amy March- Maia DeGrazia
Amy March- Sasha Tyler
Professor Bhaer- Dustin Davis
John Brooke- Sage Spiker
Mr. Lawrence- Brett Borden
Laurie- Ben Jaeger
Aunt March- Angela McConville
Mrs. Kirk- Nancy Holm


The Operatic Tragedy
Clarissa- Hannah Green
Rodrigo- Sage Spiker
Sir Braxton- Brett Borden
Hag- Minsu Song
Troll Leader- Frances Bottorff
Troll Army-
Veda Fitzpatrick
Jack Furlong
Blake Gordley*
Niles Granfield
Maya Hanna
Ethan Hill
Lilly Vogts
Summer Walsh – Saylor*


* Performer new to City Circle Acting Company

Get to Know Chess Cast Member Rob Beland!

Credit to ©alaynnaannschwartz of Playlife Photography and

Minsu Song: University of Iowa – Rob Beland has been performing since he was in the seventh grade, his first big role being Huck Finn in Tom Sawyer. Because he went to a smaller school, he was able to participate in various drama activities. Rob has been a part of various productions since high school, highlights including: Buddy Holly in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at the Waterloo Community Playhouse, City Circle’s Jesus Christ Superstar in 2014, and Theatre Cedar Rapids’ Burnt Part Boys in 2015. Rob compares community theatre to a “clay blob [being] formed,” in that, it begins with chaos but ends as an amazing, cohesive piece of art.

Fast Facts on Rob:

  • He likes to sing, play guitar, play with his kids, and buy off-brand mopeds to fix up
  • Though his dream role changes daily, one of his current ones is Aaron Burr in Hamilton
  • He has many doppelgangers. He often has people asking if they know him, to which he replies, “probably not”

Click here to get your tickets to see Rob Beland in Chess!

Meet City Circle Newcomer Ashley Lapointe

Ashley portrays the mightily impressive Viigand, a Russian chess playing machine, in this Soviet vs. American drama. Credit to ©alaynnaannschwartz of Playlife Photography and

Minsu Song: University of Iowa– Ashley Lapointe first began performing during his freshman year in high school and has not stopped since. Since his debut as an extra in To Kill a Mockingbird, Ashley has gone on to perform in shows such as Mooring, Trocadero Rose, and The Polaris Dilemma at the University of Iowa. He was also a part of Iowa Summer Rep’s The Importance of Being Earnest last summer. Ashley’s favorite part about community theatre is the fact that everyone who participates is there because they want to be. The passion that everyone brings is something he truly admires and loves to see.

Fast Facts on Ashley:

  • His dream role is Elder Price in The Book of Mormon. In fact, Mormon is what inspired Ashley to pursue theatre professionally.
  • He plays piano, sings, dances, reads, and pets as many dogs as he can in his free time.
  • Throughout high school, he participated in drumline—he spent his first year playing snare and his final three playing tenor.

Get to Know City Circle Newcomer Amy Timperley

Credit to ©alaynnaannschwartz of Playlife Photography and

Minsu Song: University of Iowa – Amy Timperley has loved theatre for most of her life. As a child, her mother would take her to see musicals. Those experiences, mixed with her love of movie musicals, inspired her to begin performing in elementary school. She became more involved in theatre during high school but took a 14-year hiatus offstage after graduating. Amy has since done a number of productions in the area; you may recognize her from Theatre Cedar Rapids’ A Chorus Line and Studio Cabaret or Iowa City Community Theatre’s Damn Yankees. Chess is Amy’s first City Circle production, and she is delighted to be playing Svetlana, one of her many dream roles.

Fast Facts on Amy 

  • She and her husband love to listen to vinyl records or reel-to-reel tapes; for Christmas, he got Amy the original Chess album on vinyl
  • She recently saw Something Rotten! and says her newest dream role is to be in the ensemble of the show, because of the costumes, dancing, and musical theatre jokes
  • She started roller skating when she was a year old

Get your tickets to see Amy Timperley in Chess here!

Get to Know City Circle Newcomer Julie Thomas

Molokov (Julie Thomas, left) Svetlanna (Amy Timperly, right) Credit to ©alaynnaannschwartz of Playlife Photography and

Minsu Song: University of Iowa – While a newcomer to City Circle Acting Company, Julie Thomas is no stranger to theatre. Julie’s involvement in theatre began in high school where she played in the orchestra until her senior year, when she made her stage debut. From there, she went on to perform onstage in various productions, with highlights including: the Witch in Into the Woods, Lucy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Sr. Robert Anne in Nunsense.

Since then, she has taken time off from performing onstage to music direct productions at Columbus High School in Waterloo, Waterloo Community Playhouse, Tipton High School, and Cedar County Stoplight Players. Though it has been ten years since she has graced the stage, Julie is eager to experience the excitement and energy of a crowd once again!

Fast Facts on Julie:

  • Outside of theatre, she enjoys yoga, singing, teaching piano lessons, hiking, and professionally napping
  • She began her undergraduate degree as a harpsichord major
  • She has played her dream role before—the Witch in Into the Woods

Get your tickets to see Julie Thomas in CHESS here!

Chess and Russian Influence Relevant Today

Credit to ©alaynnaannschwartz of Playlife Photography and

Set during the politically charged Cold War era of the early 1980s, CHESS uses the World Chess Championships and chess to tell the story of two men—the brash American chess star and the earnest Soviet champion—and their fight over a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other and whose lives are torn apart by political powers they can’t control. The characters are used like pawns in this passionate game of rivalries, subterfuge, manipulation and East-West political intrigue. ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus wrote the powerful score which Rolling Stone called, “dazzling” and Tim Rice wrote the lyrics. Directed by Mark Baer with music direction by Jessica Palmer, CHESS will be performed in concert with a cast of 24 and a 20-piece orchestra.

In today’s era of Russia’s cyber-threat to western democracies, City Circle’s production of CHESS seems more relevant than ever. “For a show written in the early 80’s,” said Dustin Davis who plays the Soviet Grandmaster, “it’s amazing how relevant CHESS feels in our modern time. Russia is still at odds with America. Women, powerful women even, are still being diminished and silenced by powerful men. Capitalism and commercialism are treated like scripture. And people continue to push the limits of what can be sacrificed for greater gain, on the chessboard as well as in life.”

As part of City Circle’s Spotlight on Hunger campaign, patrons are asked to bring a food or monetary donation to the show for the Coralville Community Food Pantry. Those who donate will be entered in a drawing for free tickets to upcoming shows. Winners will be announced prior to each performance.

Tickets to the show are $12-$27 and can be purchased online at or by calling 319.248.9370 or in person at the CCPA box office at 1301 5th Street and at the Coralville Recreation Center at 1506 8th Street.

Indiana Director Mark Baer Returns for His Passion Project

Mark Baer, who directed City Circle’s wildy successful production of Sweeney Todd last year is returning this year to direct CHESS. So why is Baer, a faculty member at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana coming all the way from Indiana to direct what he calls a passion project?

Baer and his four, soon to be five, year old daughter Samantha.

“CHESS is a piece so seldom produced that it is worth the drive and the time away from my family, even my daughter who will turn five just after closing. The opportunity to direct this show with a full orchestra and the amazing vocal talent here is one I could not pass up.”  Baer who is an Associate Professor at Indiana University Northwest went on to say,  “CHESS is a beautiful score with a unique mix of musical styles and coral arrangements including the pop hit ‘One Night in Bangkok’. I think every audience member will find something to love in this show.”

Usually the director of a show is at almost every rehearsal and meets regularly with the production team. So how does it work with a long-distance director? The City Circle production team is using meticulous scheduling, video conferencing and a shortened rehearsal process to make it work.  CHESS was cast in November and rehearsals didn’t start until early January which gave the actors a month to work on their own and come as prepared as possible once rehearsals started.

Music Director Jessica Palmer will run most rehearsals  until the last two weeks before the show opens.  “Mark and I are working tirelessly to make sure our performers are supported by both of us through the process, ” said Palmer. “We have a very specific rehearsal schedule so that our volunteers know exactly when I will be working with them on the music and when Mark will be here to work on staging.”

Baer and Palmer’s first show working together was the wildly successful Sweeney Todd in 2016.

Jessica and Mark are not new to working together from a distance having worked together last year on Sweeney Todd. “I love working with Mark and was ecstatic when he asked me to work with him on this project,” said Palmer. “Even though I knew it would be an enormous amount of work, I knew it would be a tremendous learning experience for me and everyone involved in the show. And the music is so stirring and masterfully written that is is an opportunity I never thought I’d see in the area, especially with a full orchestra.”

The show features 24 actors and a full orchestra. “I am so impressed with the calibre of talent in the Corridor, “says Baer. “Our team is working hard to put together a show that will engage and captivate Corridor audiences and bring the story of CHESS to life.” 

CHESS In Concert runs one weekend, February 9-11 at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. Get your tickets today for what is sure to be a memorable show.

A Night Out At The Theatre

Spending time away from screens is one of the most popular resolutions this year. Putting away our electronics for an evening to share in an experience has the potential to deepen our relationships with others and cultivate new habits that increase our overall happiness.

Consider a night at the theatre…

City Circle Acting Company makes it easy to enjoy a professional-caliber theatre experience from the comfort of your hometown.

Some things to remember during your visit to the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts:

  • Watch a couple popular clips from the upcoming show and get ready to see it live
  • Enjoy a meal at one of the delicious locally-owned Coralville restaurants before the show
  • Park wherever you like, at the CCPA parking is plentiful and free
  • Look at the head shot gallery in the lobby before the show to familiarize yourself with the performers and identify some new faces!
  • Donate to the Coralville Food Pantry to support City Circle’s season long Spotlight on Hunger Campaign and get entered to win free tickets to an upcoming show
  • Grab a drink from the box office to enjoy during your show in one of our reusable cups and bring it back next time
  • Read the director’s notes, orchestra listing, and stage crew listing. It really does take a village.
  • Talk with your friends and family during intermission about the first act, identify your favorite songs, costumes, or performers
  • Stay for a meet and greet with the cast after the show – cast members strive to meet the audience in the lobby after every performance and are always happy to take pictures and sign programs
  • Mark your calendars for the next City Circle Acting Company show – don’t miss out on the rich artistic opportunities right at your doorstep!
Tickets are now on sale for our upcoming production of Chess in Concert. A beloved 1980’s Cold War era musical filled with political intrigue and romantic notions, Chess features hits like “One Night in Bangcock” and “Nobody’s Side.” From the lyricist of the Lion King, Tim Rice, and the geniuses behind ABBA’s music, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Get your tickets today.