Amazing Grace, a musical chronicling the life of the British slave trader who penned the timeless song, will open on Broadway this summer. The musical will tell the story of John Newton, a slave ship captain who converted to Christianity and became an abolitionist during the 18th century.
Inspired by Newton’s biography, Broadway newcomer Christopher Smith, a former police officer, wrote the score for the production. During its opening in Chicago, Amazing Grace received constructive criticism from audiences so changes have been made to the book and a different version will open on Broadway. The $16 million production faced backlash for telling a story of slavery from the viewpoint of a white slave owner. When the show opens on Broadway, instead of relying heavily on Newton’s viewpoint, Amazing Grace will tell a majority of the story from the viewpoint of Thomas, a slave played by Tony award-winning Broadway Black actor Chuck Cooper ( The Life; Caroline, Or Change).
Other Broadway Black actors accompanying Cooper in the show include Charles E. Wallace, Toni Elizabeth White, Hollie E. Wright, Uyoata Udi, Oneika Phillips, Mike Evartiste, Rheaume Crenshaw, Rachael Ferrera, and Laiona Michelle.
Lead Producer Carolyn Rossi Copeland described the show to the “New York Times”: “It’s a traditional big Broadway musical, but it’s different in that it’s also an opportunity for church group audiences to come to something and feel pretty confident they’ll walk out feeling uplifted.”