New Musical AMAZING GRACE Opens at Goodspeed Tonight, 5/17

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Goodspeed Musicals takes to the high seas with the new musical Amazing Grace. This tale about a slave trader who sees the light and dedicates himself to ending slavery will run from tonight, May 17 through June 10, 2012 at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., Goodspeed's home for developing new works.

"Storms. Slavery. Romance. Redemption. Prepare to be swept away by this epic musical saga about John Newton, a rebellious slave trader, and the woman who never lost faith in him. While fighting the raging seas and his own despair, Newton's life is suddenly transformed - igniting a quest to end the scourge of slavery. Based on a true story of the man who penned the world's most recognizable song, it's a powerful musical you will never forget."

Amazing Grace features music and lyrics by Christopher Smith and book by Arthur Giron and Christopher Smith.

Goodspeed Musicals, the first two-time Tony Award winning theatre in the country, previously announced that the cast of Amazing Grace would be led by Chris Peluso who plays John Newton. Peluso appeared in Broadway's Mamma Mia!, Lestat, and Assassins. Whitney Bashor plays Mary Catlett. Laiona Michelle plays Nanna/Ayotunde. Mike Evariste plays Thomas/Keita. Captain Newton is played by Dennis Parlato of Broadway's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Sound of Music, Chess, and A Chorus Line as well as Mrs. McThing at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre. Major Gray is played by Chris Hoch of Broadway's La Cage aux Folles; Shrek The Musical; Spamalot; Dracula, the Musical; and Beauty and the Beast. Hoch also appeared in Goodspeed's Caraboo, Princess of Javasu at The Norma Terris Theatre. Harriet D. Foy plays The Princess. Ms. Foy appeared in Broadway's The American Plan, Mamma Mia!, and Once on This Island as well as in Goodspeed's Good Sports at The Norma Terris Theatre.

The ensemble includes Jonathan BurkeMerideth Kaye ClarkRheaume CrenshawAndrew Crowe, Tyrone Davis Jr.,Rachael FerreraLiam FordeLogan Rose Nelms, Adbur Rahim Jackson, Olivia Bowman Jackson, Allen KendallAlex Krasser,Kate Marilley (Goodspeed's Half a Sixpence and L'il Abner), Danny Rothman (Goodspeed's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), Gavriel Savit, Victoria Thornsbury, Paul Michael Valley (Broadway's 1776), Charles E. WallaceToni Elizabeth White, and Noah Zachary.

Amazing Grace is directed by Gabriel Barre, who has helmed numerous Goodspeed favorites including Houdini, Summer of '42, Camille Claudel, and Stand By Your Man at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre; Finian's Rainbow, King of Hearts, and Pippin at the Goodspeed Opera House as well as the Pippin National Tour. Barre's other credits include The Wild Party (Manhattan Theatre Club) and Summer of '42 off-Broadway. Choreography is by Benoit-Swan Pouffer, renowned Artistic Director of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in New York City. The Fight Movement and Military Director will be David Leong. The Music Supervisor is Kimberly Grigsby whose Music Directing/Conducting credits on Broadway include Spider-Man; Caroline, or Change; Spring Awakening; The Full Monty among others. The Music Director is Jodie Moore, who was Assistant Conductor of Broadway's 9 to 5.

The set is designed by Beowulf Boritt, whose Broadway credits include The Scottsboro Boys (Tony nomination), Sondheim on Sondheim, Rock of Ages, Lovemusik, Jay Johnson: The Two and Only, and …Spelling Bee. Boritt's Goodspeed credits include Pippin and Abyssinia. Costumes are designed by Toni-Leslie James, whose Broadway credits include The Scottsboro Boys, Finian's Rainbow, Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Wild Party, Marie Christine, and Footloose. Lighting design will be by Tony Award winner Ken Billington whose most recent Broadway credits include Don't Dress for Dinner, Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, The Scottsboro Boys, and Sondheim on Sondheim. Billington has served as Lighting Designer for numerous productions at Goodspeed including Lucky Guy, The Story of My Life, and The 60's Project at The Norma Terris Theatre. Sound design is by Jay Hilton, who is in his 27th season at Goodspeed.

Amazing Grace is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.

Amazing Grace runs tonight, May 17 through June 10, 2012. Curtain times are Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m.*, Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (*Thurs. 8 pm only on May 17th).

Tickets are available through the Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week, or on-line at www.goodspeed.org.  For show highlights, exclusive photos, special events, and more visit us at goodspeed.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed also maintains the Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support of our official audio sponsor Sennheiser Electronic Corporation. Goodspeed Musicals is supported in part by the Department of Economic and Community Development with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

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