Know Before You Go--AMAZING GRACE


AMAZING GRACE is based on the incredible true story of John Newton.  Born in London in 1725, John was taken to sea at age 11 by his shipmaster father.  After losing a job in Spain during his rebellious teen years, John's father got him work as a slave master on a sugar plantation in Jamaica.  There he met Mary Catlett, who serves as his love interest in the musical.  

By age 17, Newton had deserted from the Royal Navy, was recaptured, and transferred to a slave ship headed for West Africa.  Newton was left behind in Sierra Leone and became a slave himself to Princess Peye, an African Dutchess who had married a slave dealer and sold her own people.  

At 22, Newton was rescued by a ship sent by his father.  The journey home to England was fraught with storms and danger.  It was during this time that Newton began to pray to God for mercy, and his religious transformation began.  Still it was 10 more years before Newton gave up  slave trading and became an Anglican Priest.  Ultimately, he came to deeply regret his time in the slave trade and became a preacher and hymn writer. He wrote the words to Amazing Grace in 1772.  In his later years, he became a stong supporter of the abolitionist movement, and lived just long enough to see the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act passed in England in 1807.


"Amazing Grace is based on a true story about John Newton, the author of the most famous song in history but it is also a show about truth itself. The themes that echo throughout this dramatic tale include loss, grief, ego, redemption, and finding one’s true love by finding the truth within your self. It is a love story of many dimensions, between a boy and his childhood sweetheart, a father and his son as well as between a man and his faith. This is an epic tale of adventure on the high seas, which becomes a metaphor in itself, for the turbulence in John’s soul and heart. Storms from within and without.

The production will depict the world, as it existed in the mid 18th century: dependent on the slave trade to fuel its economy and in denial about the true horrors of what it was doing on a human scale. The show will take the audience to all three points of the slave triangle, England, Africa, and Barbados and spend a number of scenes on board various ships at sea. All this, while making sure that above all, the audience’s imagination plays a part in the process and the spectacle. It is my aim to provide a rich theatrical environment in which this plot driven tale can unfold and it is my goal and hope that the audience will ultimately become, not just engaged in the action of the show, but see themselves in these characters, and realize the undeniable relevance of this piece for our times."
-Gabriel Barre, Director (from the Amazing Grace Study Guide )


In 1839, a ship full of would-be slaves from Sierra Leone (members of the Mende people) revolted against their Spanish captors and ordered the ship to return to their homeland.  During the night, crew members changed course and the boat landed in Long Island.  American authorities arrested the Mende for murder and imprisoned them in New Haven, CT.  The resulting court case went all the way to the Supreme Court which in 1841 declared the Mende people in question to be free.

When you come to see Amazing Grace at the Shubert, you can stop by the Amistad Memorial (pictured to the right) a few blocks away in front of New Haven's City Hall.  A replica of the Amistad (currently wintering in Mystic Seaport) travels through CT in the summer offering educational programs.  New Haven is also a sister city to Freetown, Sierra Leone.  Once you've seen the show, check out the Amistad Center for Art & Culture in Hartford, CT to learn more about African American culture through today.



We hope you'll join us at the Shubert for this wonderful show.

To  purchase tickets, please click HERE.

For information on group discounts, please call group sales manager John Michael Whitney at 203-562-5666.