Highly Recommended **** It is always a theatrical “high” in town when a show opens here prior to making the trip to New York and Broadway. Over the years, Chicago has turned out to be a good place to get the new plays in front of audiences. After all, we are the best theater city in America (if not, the world)!. The latest entry into the “test it in Chicago” market is “Amazing Grace”, a musical based on the awe-inspiring story behind the song that is probably one of the most beloved by the Christian world, “Amazing Grace”. It is a history lesson of sorts dealing with slavery, love, rebellion and redemption.
The time is 1744 and the place is England, but along the duration of the story, we travel the trails of our hero, John Newton ( a powerful performance by Josh Young who has a vocal range that is absolutely amazing). He has left the university and his easy life to come home and enter his father’s business, Slave Trading. As her tells his old schoolmate,Mary Calen ( deftly handled by Erin Mackey) who later becomes his lover, he is in business to bring to those who want an item, that item, so what he is doing is good for all concerned. Both John and Mary have had slaves, who helped raise them all their lives and know not of the suffering that bringing these people out of Africa has caused to their families. John’s Negro is George ( a dynamic portrayal by Chuck Cooper) and Mary’s Nanna (Laiona Michelle). As the story unfolds, we learn a great deal about them and what they lost when they were brought to England to become slaves.
This is a strong story and a well directed spectacle with the action never taking away from the actual story being told. Gabriel Barre takes this musical with a book by Christopher Smith and Arthur Giron and music and lyrics by Smith to two hours of pure entertainment. Yes, there are a few things that are more spectacle than story telling, but watching the two men fall overboard from the ship and swimming from the bottom of the sea to the top is amazing and once again, makes the entertainment just that, entertaining.
As this is a show that is still seeking investors to make the Broadway swing, the producers have made sure that the talent they have assembles if the best of the best, and for that Chicago audiences must be very thankful. The voices of each cast member is sheer perfection. Every actor is unique and as I said earlier, the story is easy to follow despite the few instances where we know that they have taken poetic license. Let’s face it. This is an evening of entertainment, not a history class, so if they fudge a bit, that is okay- they have presented a marvelous evening of entertainment. If you attend a matinee, that would be an afternoon.
Cst members that deserve mention are as follows:
Tom Hewitt, Chris Hoch, Stanley Baborek, Harriet B. Foy ( as the African Queen)Elizabeth Wardland, and Michael Dean Morgan, but the entire ensemble is terrific and what makes this show so pleasurable is that all the pieces fit making the puzzle complete. Costumes, set, lighting, sound and the orchestrations. Will this show be just as i saw it tonight when (and if) it hits the Great White Way? We will find out when it makes its return as a Road Company Show after its initial Broadway run ( should this all come to be). many shows do not make it, but I for one feel that this one truly has the right ingredients to do so!
Meanwhile, for those of you who do not want to wait, “Amazing Grace” will be here through November 2nd ( unless they extend the run). Tickets range from $33-$100 and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 800-775-2000 , at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
The Theater is The Bank of America Theatre 18 West Monroe Street ( between Dearborn and State.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Amazing Grace”
performances are as follows:
|Tue, Oct 21:||7:30pm|
|Wed, Oct 22:||2:00pm & 7:30pm|
|Thu, Oct 23:||7:30pm|
|Fri, Oct 24:||7:30pm|
|Sat, Oct 25:||2:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Oct 26:||2:00pm|
|Tue, Oct 28:||7:30pm|
|Wed, Oct 29:||2:00pm & 7:30pm|
|Thu, Oct 30:||7:30pm|
|Fri, Oct 31:||7:30pm|
|Sat, Nov 1:||2:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Nov 2:||2:00pm|