A Hymn to a Hymn: Amazing Grace Musical Will Get Goodspeed Life in CT
By Kenneth Jones
The new musical Amazing Grace, based on the life of John Newton, the former slave trader who wrote the famous hymn of the title, will launch Goodspeed Musicals' 2012 Norma Terris Theatre season of new works in May.
Gabriel Barre (Manhattan Theatre Club's The Wild Party) will direct the musical, which has concept, music and lyrics by Christopher Smith and a libretto co-written by Arthur Giron and Smith. Performances will play May 17-June 10 at the Norma Terris in Chester, CT.
Here's how Goodspeed bills the work: "Storms. Slavery. Romance. Redemption. Prepare to be swept away by this epic musical saga about John Newton, a rebellious slave trader, and the woman who never lost faith in him. While fighting the raging seas and his own despair, Newton's life is suddenly transformed — igniting a quest to end the scourge of slavery. Based on a true story of the man who penned the world's most recognizable song, it's a powerful musical you will never forget."
Barre directed starry developmental readings of the musical in November 2011 and January 2011 in Manhattan, with Carolyn Rossi Copeland (Freud's Last Session) as producer.
Benoit-Swan Pouffer, artistic director of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in New York City, will choreograph. The music supervisor is Kimberly Grigsby whose music directing/conducting credits on Broadway include Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark; Caroline, or Change; Spring Awakening and more.
Amazing Grace is part of Goodspeed's developmental season at the Terris, which nurtures new works. Critics are not invited.
Giron joined the Amazing Grace team in September 2009 as co-author of the book. He has written 15 plays including Flight, St. Francis in Egypt, Edith Stein and A Dream of Wealth. Giron helped develop the next generation of playwrights as head of the Graduate Playwriting Program at Carnegie Mellon University. He continues to teach and lecture at such places as Sarah Lawrence College.
Newcomer Smith wrote his first musical at the age of 17. He attended the Allentown College (now DeSales University) theatre program for acting and directing before transferring to Eastern University. A chance stroll through a grade school library led him to pick up a book about a John Newton.
A second Terris season title will be announced soon. As previously reported, The Great American Mousical, to be directed by Julie Andrews, will complete the season come fall.
Amazing Grace curtain times are Wednesday at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, Thursday at 7:30 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 3 PM and 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM and 6:30 PM.
Advance season subscriptions are now on sale for only $120 through the Box Office at (860) 873-8668.
Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT, and additional productions at The Norma Terris Theatre.
The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre.
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