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Amazing Grace

posted Jul 25, 2015, 6:58 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jul 25, 2015, 6:58 PM ]
The new original musical Amazing Grace just opened on Broadway last week, based on the inspiring true story behind the world’s most beloved song. It chronicles the life of John Newton, a willful and musically talented young British sailor who faces a future as uncertain as the turning tide. Coming of age as the 18th century boasts an international empire of slavery, he finds himself torn between following in the footsteps of his father – a slave trader – or embracing the more compassionate view of his childhood sweetheart. With a graphic depiction of the slave trade, the show explores the stormy relationship of the father-son dynamic, which worsens when an overt religious moment causes Newton to convert to Christianity and become an Anglican clergyman and abolitionist. And causes him to pen one our most famous hymns!

Besides the powerful story, there is the appeal of the hymn itself, (which is estimated to be sung nearly ten million times a year!) The melody is woven through the body of the musical, and the full hymn is sung during the epilogue and reprised at the curtain call, at which point audiences often stand and join in. Even President Obama recently reminded the world of the song’s power by singing it at the funeral of Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, the murdered pastor in Charleston, S.C.

While reviews have been less than “amazing”, the producers say audience reactions are enthusiastic, and they believe there is a market, and a need, for inspirational shows with a redemptive theme. The show is playing at the Nederlander Theatre, and discount tickets seem to be available through a variety of sources. Let me know if you see it and what you think!