Laura Michelle Kelly & Josh Young Star in Today's Amazing Grace Reading
Producer Carolyn Rossi Copeland, currently represented Off-Broadway with the hit play Freud's Last Session, has assembled a starry cast for today's (November 14th) special invitational presentation of the original new musical AMAZING GRACE, with music & lyrics by Christopher Smith and book by Mr. Smith & Arthur Giron, at the New 42nd Street Studios. This is only the second public reading of AMAZING GRACE, which has been in development for the past three years. Under the direction of Gabriel Barre, the cast features Josh Young (Judas in Broadway's upcoming Jesus Christ Superstar) as John Newton, Laura Michelle Kelly (Olivier Award winner for Mary Poppins), Jeff McCarthy (Urinetown, Side Show), Alan H. Green (Sister Act, Spelling Bee), Chris Hoch (Spamalot, Shrek), and Harriett D. Foy (Mamma Mia!)
AMAZING GRACE is an epic musical love story based on the life and trials of John Newton, the former abusive slave-trader who authored the world's most recognized song. The story is told from the point of view of his childhood friend Mary Catlett, the woman who never lost faith in him and whose love, courage and unshakable conviction helped to transform his life. Their journey, from the depths of Newton's despair through finding the meaning of their own existence, will lead them to love, heartbreak and an epic quest to end the scourge of slavery. AMAZING GRACE encompasses everything from triumphant anthems to heart rending ballads all set within a love story which transcends time and distance.
Also featured in the cast of AMAZING GRACE are Laiona Michelle, Jake Boyd, Rheaume Crenshaw, Melanie Czaykowsky, Struan Erlenborn, Hayley Feinstein, Aaron Galligan-Stierle, Carly Hughes, Madelyn Jarmon, Allen Kendall, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Sarah Knapp, Marla Mindelle, Erick Pinnick, Dan Sharkey, Sasha Sloan, Ian Michael Stuart, Zachary Unger, Paul Michael Valley, Jason Veasey, Charles E. Wallace, Elizabeth Ward Land, and Christopher Wood. Music Supervisor for AMAZING GRACE is Kimberly Grigsby.
For more information, visit www.agmusical.com.
Christopher Smith (Music / Lyrics / Co-author of Book) wrote his first musical at the age of 17, which was performed at the University of Delaware. A chance stroll through a grade school library led him to pick up a book about a person about whom he knew very little: John Newton. He became convinced that this was a story that could bridge the gap between ordinary experience and deep struggles of the soul. "At first it was just me, plinking away at a keyboard. Now we have a whole team and that team is still growing. Theatre, more than any other art is collaborative, you couldn't do it all even if you wanted to. Still when I look at where this began it's tough to get my mind around how far that initial idea has come."
Arthur Giron (Co-author of Book) joined the AMAZING GRACE team in September 2009. Arthur has written 15 plays which are performed continuously around the country. His shows have broken the box office records of three theaters: the Pittsburgh Public Theater (Edith Stein), Urban Stages (A Dream of Wealth), and Ensemble Studio Theatre (Flight). For many years Arthur helped develop the next generation of playwrights as he served as Head of the Graduate Playwriting Program at Carnegie Mellon University, home of the first drama degree in history. Edith Stein continues to excite audiences worldwide and will next be performed in Buenos Aires. In addition to his work in theatre, Arthur has received a commission to write an opera libretto for the Metropolitan Opera Guild.
Gabriel Barre (Director) is both a Tony nominated actor and successful director. As a director, Gabriel's Off-Broadway credits include the Manhattan Theatre Club's production of The Wild Party by Andrew Lippa (nominated for 13 Drama Desk Awards and five Outer Critics Circle Awards, both including Best Director and for which he won the Callaway Award), Summer of '42, Stars in Your Eyes, Honky-Tonk Highway, john & jen, and Almost, Maine. He directed the national tour of Pippin, which started at the Goodspeed Opera House, as well as the national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella starring Eartha Kitt, which was on the road over a three year period including stops at Madison Square Garden and a production at the Paper Mill Playhouse. His regional theatre credits include Private Lives at Seattle Repertory Theatre; Tom Jones and Memphis at the North Shore Music Theatre in Boston (the later, also at Theatreworks); Sweeney Todd, Finian's Rainbow, Houdini, and many other new musicals at Goodspeed; Stand By Your Man at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville; Hay Fever and Pericles at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; American Musical Theatre of San Jose's productions of Little Shop of Horrors and Flower Drum Song; as well as Hair and Love's Labours Lost at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre. In Europe and Asia, he directed the world premiere of the Frank Wildhorn musical Carmen, now in its third sold out year in Prague, Czech Republic at the Karlin Theatre, where he also mounted a large scale revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. Gabe has recently returned from directing the world premiere of the new musical Tears of Heaven (nominated for eight Musical Awards including Best Direction) in Seoul, South Korea.
Kimberly Grigsby (Music Supervisor) Music Directing/Conducting credits include, on Broadway: The Light in the Piazza; Caroline, or Change; Spring Awakening; The Full Monty; You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Twelfth Night. Off-Broadway credits include Spring Awakening, Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare In the Park), Songs From an Unmade Bed, Junie B. Jones, The Immigrant, Radiant Baby, and Twelfth Night. For her work on Caroline, or Change in Los Angeles, she received the 2005 Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award for Music Direction. For The Philadelphia Theatre Company's production of Elegies, she received the 2005 Barrymore Award for Music Direction. Kimberly is currently the Music Director of Spider-Man on Broadway.
Carolyn Rossi Copeland (Producer) is the lead producer of Freud's Last Session, now in its second smash year at New World Stages. She has been producing theatre since 1979 when she founded The Lambs Theatre Company in the heart of Times Square. Under Carolyn's leadership, The Lambs grew into an award-winning and financially successful enterprise. She was dedicated to producing new musicals and gave birth to such shows as Smoke on the Mountain by Connie Ray and Alan Bailey, Gifts of the Magi and Johnny Pye by Mark St. Germain and Randy Courts, john & jen by Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald, and Roads to Home by Horton Foote. She produced the highly successful 1988 revival of Godspell. Carolyn was sought out by Madison Square Garden/Radio City Entertainment to oversee the historic remount of The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway and then became the Vice President for Creative Affairs for Radio City Entertainment. She currently serves as Executive Producer of Strouse IP, the company that controls and manages the works of the great American composer Charles Strouse. She is very excited about the revival of Annie, and has great hopes for Superman, Rags and other great Strouse musicals. Carolyn continues her work as a producer of new works with AMAZING GRACE. She is a Drama Desk and Obie Award nominee and recipient. Carolyn's creative vision and leadership have garnered the prestigious AT&T New Musicals Award, the NEA New Works Award and numerous industry nominations for artistic achievements. www.crcproductions.org