Beloved “Amazing Grace” Story Takes on Broadway

By Angela Zatopek/CBN News

It’s a song that’s been sung throughout churches, schools, and movies. Now it’s hitting the big stage: on Broadway.

Featuring Tony award-winning actors and cutting edge sets, “Amazing Grace” tells the story behind the famous hymn and its author through music and dance.

“It’s the story of John Newton, who was a horrific slave trader,” executive producer Carolyn Rossi Copeland said. Copeland is also the founder of the Lambs Theatre Company.

“Through his faith (he) became the man who wrote the hymn and started the abolitionist movement in England,” she said.

Known for using torture and abuse to control slaves, Newton wound up becoming a slave himself when betrayed by his own crew in West Africa.

While serving an African duchess, Princess Peye, he endured the same type of abuse he had once handed out.

When rescued years later, Newton converted to Christianity during his voyage back to England. With his conversion from slave trader to “soldier for the cross,” Newton became a prominent voice in the abolitionist movement.

“Learning about John Newton, I was embarrassed I didn’t know anything about him and I feel like the world needs to know about him,” Copeland told CBN News’ Angela Zatopek.

Despite its graphic depiction of the slave trade and religious content, composer Christopher Smith said it’s a story for all audiences.

Smith left his career as an NYPD officer and youth pastor in 2007 to fully focus on making this production come to life.

“Nobody in this industry thought there was an audience for this,” he said. “I had to prove myself along the way and step out in faith. The desire to be loved in spite of your faults is not a religious impulse or a secular impulse, it’s a human impulse.”

“It’s an immensely relevant and resonant story for our time right now,” he said. “I think it shows about second chances and overcoming anything and be hopeful about second chances and starting with yourself to make a bigger change.”

“Amazing Grace” crosses gender and generational boundaries, uniting people at every turn and giving people a sense of hope.


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