AMAZING GRACE Tours to the Harris Center
The Harris Center is committed to bringing new theatrical work to the Sacramento area, like Amazing Grace - the Broadway musical based on the true story behind one of the world's most beloved songs; a story that is not well-known.
John Newton, a willful and musically talented young Englishman, found himself torn between following in the footsteps of his father - a slave trader - or embracing the more compassionate views of his childhood sweetheart. As depicted in Amazing Grace, a Broadway musical on its first national tour, Newton embraces his father's trade, but after a long voyage at sea and a dark night of the soul, the song "Amazing Grace" was born. Put another way, "the hymn, which many associate with the civil rights movement, was written in the 18th century by an Englishman who worked in the slave-trading business. Curious to know more?" (New York Times).
Amazing Grace comes to the Harris Center for six performances: Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 7:30 pm; Friday, March 30 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Saturday, March 31 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, April 1 at 2 pm. Tickets are $49-$79; Premium $89; 10% Discount on Friday matinee single tickets. Tickets are available online at www.harriscenter.net or from the Harris Center Ticket Office at 916-608-6888 from noon to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking permits are issued at the time of ticket purchase. The Harris Center is located on the west side of the Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, CA, facing East Bidwell Street.
John Newton's perilous voyage on the high seas accompanied by his slave, Thomas, is undoubtedly a tale of redemption and hope, "inspirational, beautiful, emotional, and exhilarating" (Associated Press). "But the musical is not just soothing and includes clear depictions of the horrors of slavery. The show opens with the audience immediately implicated as eager auctioneers at a brutal slave auction...And the destruction slavery caused to black families is highlighted multiple times" (Washington Post).
The story behind Amazing Grace is compelling. Writer/composer Christopher Smith is a former police officer who came across a biography of John Newton in his local library. Mr. Smith, who has no formal training as a writer or musician, set out to write a musical anyway - and is the only person to conceive, write and compose a show that made it to production on Broadway with his very first try. (The opening on Broadway came a month after President Obama sang "Amazing Grace" at the end of his eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was murdered during a bible study session in his church in Charleston, South Carolina). The national tour of Amazing Grace began last November with an eight-week stint at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., where it was the inaugural presentation for the new museum's theatre.
As for the staging, Amazing Grace is "one of the best looking musicals to reach New York in recent seasons" (Wall Street Journal). The production will bring to the Harris Center's state-of-the-art stage a set "stunningly conceived by Scenic Designers Eugene Lee and Edward Pierce, with Lighting Designer Ken Billington... the stage fluently becomes, by turns, a storm at sea, a British parlor, a near-drowning underwater, a savannah in Sierra Leone, and more" (DC Metro Theater Arts).
"When a man who was a horrific slave trader can have a change of heart through his faith and become the father of the abolitionist movement, there is hope for change," noted Carolyn Rossi Copeland, Executive Producer of the musical, to the Washington Post, which reported that "...Even [Chris] Jones, the Chicago critic, admitted to getting teary-eyed during the epilogue, when the cherished hymn finally appears, to be taken up by the entire cast. An audience and actor, slave and slave-trader, black and white, all swept up in that soulful sound... ."
This Year Marks Seven Seasons of Great Shows. Up Close. In Folsom!
The Harris Center for the Arts at Folsom Lake College brings the community together to share in cultural experiences featuring the work of artists from throughout the region and around the world. Built and operated by the Los Rios Community College District, the $50 million, state-of-the-art regional performing arts center boasts three intimate venues with outstanding acoustics, an art gallery, a recording studio, elegant teaching spaces, plenty of safe parking and all the other amenities of a world-class performing arts venue. Each year the Center hosts approximately 400 events attracting upwards of 150,000 annually.