Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Amazing Grace cast changes and free concert

Several cast members from the fabulous new musical Amazing Grace: The True Story will offer a free benefit concert May 1 and 2 in Bensalem, PA. The show tells the story of John Newton, a slave trader who went on to pen one of the world’s most famous songs, Amazing Grace.

I’m thrilled that J. Mark McVey (in photo), award-winning Broadway star of Les Miserables, will now be playing the role of John Newton’s father, a beefy part since the father and son had a troubled relationship that was never resolved. Mark, who replaces Dave Felty, not only has a gorgeous voice, but he’s one of my favorite people in show business.

A new member of the cast whom I haven’t met yet but looking forward to getting to know is Julie Hanson, a Broadway star of The Phantom of The Opera, who replaces Ali Ewoldt as Mary Catlett, the woman John Newton loves. Ali, who was great in the part when I saw a concert version of the show, has been cast as Maria in the international production of West Side Story.

The Bensalem concert will also feature Eric Briarley, from the national tour of Les Miz, who will cover all the John Newton parts because Adam Jacobs, who has been playing the role and is powerful in it, is touring in Mamma Mia!. (Eric was Adam's understudy, in the role of Marius, on the Les Miz tour.)
I wish I could be at this concert, but as a Drama Desk voter I’m really swamped this time of year with all the New York openings. Hope you can get there. It will be 8 p.m. at the Christian Life Center, 3100 Galloway Rd, Bensalem, PA; phone (215) 322-LIFE. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. No tickets, but an offering will be accepted. Suggested donation: $10

Amazing Grace: The True Story was written by Bucks County's own Christopher Smith. World Magazine says the show features "a soaring score, moving lyrics, and a powerful plot... A coming-of-age drama backed by a setting of storms, battles and high seas adventure."

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