Josh Young to Head AMAZING GRACE Readings 2/10-2/11

Carolyn Rossi Copeland & AG Funding will present a special invitational reading of the new musical AMAZING GRACE, with music & lyrics by Christopher Smith and book by Mr. Smith & Arthur Giron, for two performances on Thursday, February 10th and Friday, February 11th at 3 p.m. at The New 42nd Street Studios (229 West 42nd Street). This will be the first 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 (Che in Evita at Stratford Festival) as John Newton, Terrence Mann (The Addams Family, Les Miserables), Matt Bogart (Jersey Boys, Aida), Katie Rose Clarke (Wicked), Quentin Earl Darrington (Ragtime), Harriet D. Foy (Mamma Mia!), and Laiona Michelle (Black Nativity).

AMAZING GRACE is an epic musical love story based on the life and trials of John Newton, the former slave-trader who authored one of the world's most recognized songs. 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 to find 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 Courtney Balan, Rheaume Crenshaw, Trevon Davis, Struan Erlenborn, Rachel Ferrera, Scott Richard Foster, Christopher Kale Jones, Allen Kendall, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Sarah Knapp, C. Mingo Long, Dominique Plaisant, Aaron Ramey, Dan Sharkey, Sasha Sloan, Paul Michael Valley, Kayla Vanderbilt, Robin S. Walker, and Charles E. Wallace.

The Music Supervisor for AMAZING GRACE is Kimberly Grigsby.

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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. This month, Arthur's most recent play St. Francis in Egypt will be performed in Casper, Wyoming. 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 stage director. As a director Gabriel has Off-Broadway credits which 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 recent national tour of Pippin, which started at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut, 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. Last year he directed the world premiere of the new Frank Wildhorn musical Carmen at the Karlin Theatre in Prague, Czech Republic where he will be returning next year to direct Aida.

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. She holds degrees from Southern Methodist University and Manhattan School of Music.

Carolyn Rossi Copeland (Producer) is currently represented Off-Broadway by the hit play Freud's Last Session. 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.

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