The riveting, real-life story behind the popular hymn “Amazing Grace” is currently being told on Broadway, with producer Carolyn Rossi Copeland aiming to entertain audiences, while informing them about the harrowing events that led to the penning of the beloved song.
What makes the musical debut of “Amazing Grace” so unique is the fact that it deals with faith — a theme that is rarely seen in theaters.
Copeland recently told The Church Boys that audiences are in for a true story about how love, hope, forgiveness and redemption converged in the life of British abolitionist and “Amazing Grace” writer John Newton, who lived from 1725 until 1807.
When asked whether there were any moments in which she felt as though it was “definitely God” at work as she and her team prepared for the show to hit Broadway, Copeland pointed to the summer opening of “Amazing Grace” as being perfectly — and divinely — timed.
“We were waiting for a theater December, January, February, March, April — then we finally get the theater at the end of April and we’re in previews the week that this horror happens in our country,” she said, speaking of the tragic June shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. “And the president sings ‘Amazing Grace’ and all of the sudden we have requests to do national television.”
Listen to the show below (interview with Copeland and composer Chris Smith starts at 1:03 mark):
Obama’s decision to sing “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney captured a plethora of attention, moving heartbroken individuals across the nation who were grieving the deadly attack.
“I don’t want to piggy back off of somebody’s horror, but the timing was unbelievably providential that we didn’t open in April or May or June,” Copeland continued, with composer Chris Smith also adding that he believes the timing of the show was meant to be.
“This timing was perfect and to see the forgiveness from the families to the person who just took so much from them is such a validation … and this healing part of our story,” Smith said, referencing the stunning forgiveness that family members gave to Charleston shooter Dylann Roof following the shooting. “It’s such a great example of it. … I do not believe in coincidences. It’s just meant to be.”
As TheBlaze has previously reported, “Amazing Grace” the musical sheds new light on the life of Newton, the British abolitionist who authored the historic hymn.
“John Newton … a willful and musically talented young Englishman, faces a future as uncertain as the turning tide,” an official description reads. “Coming of age as Britain sits atop an international empire of slavery, he finds himself torn between following in the footsteps of father — a slave trader — and embracing the more compassionate views of his childhood sweetheart.”
Newton was originally involved in the slave trade, but ended up leaving the industry behind, becoming an evangelical Christian and a noted writer who penned “Amazing Grace.”
He was also a vocal proponent of the abolitionist movement, decrying his past acts and speaking out in an effort to end slavery.
Copeland and Smith are hoping that audiences will flock to see the unique Broadway show.
“We’re hoping people are willing to … buy a ticket, because its great theater and it speaks to their heart and it speaks to their soul,” Copeland said.