Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Amazing Grace update
I know a lot of people are interested in the new musical “Amazing Grace: The True Story.” (Oct. 17 posting). Here’s an update:
Laurie Gayle Stephenson has been hired as a new cast member for the recording. She starred for two years as Christine in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway, played opposite Michael Crawford for three years in “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber” and was in the original Broadway cast of the “The Secret Garden.”
She will be Mrs. Catlett, mother of Mary, the woman John Newton loves. Christopher Smith, who has written the book, music and lyrics for the show, is writing a new song for her with a female ensemble; the female ensemble will take a more prominent role with an additional scene. Chris has changed the nature of Mrs. Catlett and Mary's relationship to give their disagreement added pathos and therefore a more satisfying denouement. (Mrs. Catlett doesn’t approve of Newton and wants Mary to marry another man.)
Adam Jacobs and David Michael Felty, who performed in the concert I wrote about, are confirmed for the recording. The CD with full orchestra and the Broadway veterans will be released in the spring of 2008. It will likely be recorded with a symphony in London or Seattle and some musicians from Bucks County, PA, as well.
Chris and his producers are in negotiations with potential venues for a world premiere in early 2009. (Sneak previews would begin at a university in late 2008.) The world premiere will have a complete staging: a full-sized ship,battles, storms, lightning and other effects. The producers have begun negotiations with corporate sponsors and private investors who will fund the production on about the same level as a Broadway national tour (between $8 and $12 million). They are still seeking more so if anyone is interested they should reach out and Chris will get them to a backers’ audition (or bring one to them if there are several supporters in one area.) The web site is amazinggracethetruestory.com.
God willing, the show will then begin its own national tour after the initial run is established. This will include all of the same theatres Broadway tours go to and a few they don't.
I am so excited about this musical and believe that it will be a big success. I’ve invited them to do a number from the show at next year’s Broadway Blessing, so mark your calendars for Sept. 8 and come to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to catch a glimpse of this powerful show before it takes off big time. And stay tuned to this site for more updates.
(In photo: Karen Burgman, assistant composer, Christopher Smith, concept, music, lyrics and libretto, and Greggory Brandt, director)