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Amazing Grace

Members say: Great staging, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Absorbing, Entertaining
68
Critics
54
68 reviews
Members
73
187 reviews
 

A musical of romance, rebellion, and redemption, based on the awe-inspiring true story behind the world's most beloved song.

... Read more

John Newton, a willful and musically talented young Englishman, faces a future as uncertain as the turning tide. Coming of age as Britain sits atop an international empire of slavery, he finds himself torn between following in the footsteps of his father — a slave trader — and embracing the more compassionate views of his childhood sweetheart. But when a perilous voyage on the high seas finds John in his darkest hour, a transformative moment of self-reckoning inspires a blazing anthem of hope that will finally guide him home.

 

Cast & Creatives (42)



Reviews (255)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
54
Avg Score

40
The New York Times

"Unfortunately, while aspects of Newton’s tale are indeed noteworthy, maybe even amazing, the musical itself unfolds as an overstuffed history lesson trimmed in melodrama, with a standard-issue romantic subplot and some dutiful attempts to explore the lives of the slaves... 'Amazing Grace,' thick with such moralizing, naturally concludes on a note of uplift, or rather many notes of uplift: a choral singing of the title song... The song is simple, beautiful, immortal; the musical, not so much." Full Review

60
New York Post

"Smith’s score seems to aim for “Les Miz”-like grandeur, but falls short, despite some agreeable tunes. But of course nothing comes close to the title song, which isn’t just the show’s payoff, but the reason it exists. However awkward or heavy-handed the proceedings are up till then, 'Amazing Grace' doesn’t fail to draw tears." Full Review

55
Theatermania

"A mildly enjoyable adventure enhanced greatly by sumptuous design and staging...The exciting score feels like window dressing on the skeletal remains of a much more robust story." Full Review

65
Variety

"There’s an audience out there for 'Amazing Grace,' flawed as it is. Christian congregations and other faith-based groups should respond to this epic-scaled saga of how John Newton, an 18th-century British slave trader played by Josh Young, experienced a 'miraculous' religious conversion, became an Anglican minister, and went on to write 200 church hymns, including the stirring title piece. But ye of little faith will find it tough sledding." Full Review

30
Time Out New York

"Personally, I expect poetic license in the theater, but I expect it to serve a strong artistic or political vision. 'Amazing Grace' has neither. It comes out strongly against slavery; well done. But as with the recent, equally dismal, 'Doctor Zhivago', 'Grace' proves that folks are willing to burn piles of money trying to resurrect the 1980s-style megamusical. At best, the piece might move audiences to sympathetic tears, but in the end, it’s preaching to the choir." Full Review

40
NY1

"The tale might work in a historical drama by a talented playwright, but Smith and Giron deliver little more than a clunky period piece broken up by bombastic, generic anthems...'Grace' proves that producers are willing to burn piles of money trying to resurrect the 1980s-style megamusical. At best 'Amazing Grace' might manipulate audiences to tears, but in the end, it’s preaching to the choir." Full Review

20
New York Magazine / Vulture

"The equivalent of a child’s drawing: naïve, sincere, glowing with an unimpeachable if hard-to-pin-down vision of what it wants to be...It is also a confusing cartoon so lacking in craft that it ruins any chance of being taken seriously. Certainly it can’t be recommended as history; it’s riddled with falsehoods that alone would sink it. But it also fails as musical theater, on two counts: the music and the theater." Full Review

45
The Huffington Post

"'Amazing Grace' earns a place right alongside 'Scandalous,' and 'Into the Light...' While there is indeed a lightning strike on the stage, it comes courtesy of the electrician...In speaking of faith-based musicals, it was often stated--and universally proven--that you don't have to be Jewish to love 'Fiddler on the Roof.' I don't expect the producers of 'Amazing Grace' will find a happy parallel." Full Review

55
DC Theatre Scene

"It is an amazing story, but it is told on stage mostly in less than an amazing way. The new musical combines a coming-of-age tale, love story, slave narrative, costume drama, and Saturday morning adventure serial. It tries to do many things at once. For all that, we don’t actually learn much about the song... Much time, talent and money has gone into this well-meaning project to tell the story of John Newton. But it’s a musical hobbled by a misunderstanding of what makes good theater." Full Review

55
Theatre's Leiter Side

"The show is definitely blessed with a number of virtues that many will find sufficiently entertaining to keep them in their seats, including an important historical lesson , several big-chested songs, a remarkable underwater special effect, and, among other things, the beloved eponymous hymn...On the other hand, this tale is a fictionalized distortion of what actually happened, its narrative is awkward and clichéd, its characters broad stereotypes, and its wit almost an afterthought." Full Review

45
The Hollywood Reporter

"There's no questioning the sincerity of 'Amazing Grace', which recounts the true story of the penitent slave trader who penned that popular hymn. However, while the tale of oppression and liberation ultimately climbs stirring peaks, it's symptomatic of the show's problems that its most vibrant and compelling character is a regal African mercenary who dishonors her ancestors through the heartless exploitation of her people." Full Review

45
The Wall Street Journal

"It’s not so much a musical as an antislavery pageant, with innocuous songs by Christopher Smith and a vertiginously high-minded book by Mr. Smith and Arthur Giron. ... Whatever its weaknesses, this is one of the best-looking musicals to reach New York in recent seasons...I can’t imagine that 'Amazing Grace' will last long on Broadway, but it’s a perfect fit for the drama departments of Christian high schools and colleges, where it will doubtless have a profitable afterlife." Full Review

40
AM New York

"Resembling an old-fashioned adventure novel, 'Amazing Grace' is packed with changes of fortune, sentimentality and one-dimensional characters. Smith's mushy, forgettable songs sound like the work of someone who loves 'Les Miz' but has little talent of his own. The workmanlike production pulls off a visual coup at the end of act one, using a flying effect to show Newton on the verge of sinking. Too bad they couldn't just sing "Amazing Grace" at the start and save everyone 2 1/2 hours." Full Review

40
The Clyde Fitch Report

"'Amazing Grace' has as strong a finish as any musical in recent or distant memory...but is it enough to forgive what’s gone before? With little reluctance, I have to say it isn’t...Audiences are required to sit through two dubious acts before being so rewarded...The prosaic rhyming is careless, the tunes Les Miserables-generic, and the emotions fall far short of what is needed for the characters to express themselves as they must." Full Review

70
Talkin' Broadway

"'Amazing Grace' may have the noblest intentions of any major musical I've ever seen...The close of 'Amazing Grace' is every bit as stirring as you'd expect. It's everything the show needs to be, and enough that those in search of nothing more won't leave the theater feeling cheated. But this elevation does not come without a cost: Saving this song of all songs for the very end only emphasizes how thoroughly what precedes it fails to meet the composition's heaven-high standards." Full Review

40
Chicago Tribune

"The hymn "Amazing Grace" has a remarkable and singular place in history, a legacy, alas, unlikely to be enjoyed by the earnest but insufficiently sophisticated new musical that shares its title, from the hitherto unknown composer Christopher Smith...The same issue haunts the book, an overly linear piece of storytelling never better than serviceable that lacks nuance and ambiguity, even as the production it accompanies lacks a truly vibrant theatrical metaphor." Full Review

30
New York Daily News

"It’s a remarkable moment — the show’s only one, alas — in this fact-fudged telling of a historical figure’s life. Otherwise, this earnest but plodding musical needs lifelines of its own. Songs are serviceable but lack significance and surprise. You can hear the boilerplate lyrics coming a mile away. Even the potential power ballads don’t have the structure to make an impact. The jumbled book is another issue. The creators have good instincts about a story worth telling. But their reach excee... Full Review

30
Deadline

"Epically bad show...If you’re going to make a musical about one of the best-known and most-loved songs of all time, you’d better be equal to the task. That, fundamentally, is not the case with this earnest but cringe-inducing freshman effort...Finally, however, we do get what we’ve paid for: that sinuous melody, those elegantly simple words. The closing scene is as powerful as it is predictable, as the hymn builds to its climax, sung by the entire company. Everything that has come before is ... Full Review

60
Newsday

"Can a man who has done cruel, hateful, casually sadistic acts for almost three quarters of a musical become a sympathetic hero by abruptly discovering his faith? Is it possible to excuse some of history's worst crimes against humanity by explaining that, well, the perpetrator was merely a brat rebelling against his father? So much effort, sincerity and talent - not to mention cash - have been funneled into 'Amazing Grace' that it would be nice to be able to answer yes to any of that. Alas, t... Full Review

60
The Wrap

"The show postpones Barack Obama’s favorite tune to the finale, offering a long and dull history lesson with a score heavy on bombastic anthems. In Hollywood parlance, they call it “medicine”: a movie or TV show that’s good for you, that teaches you something, that hopefully leaves you inspired. 'Amazing Grace' is definitely medicine... But is 'Amazing Grace' inspirational and, more important, does it hold one’s interest?...In their final exchange, Mary asks Newton why “it took you so long” ... Full Review

75
The Associated Press

"The refreshing new show 'Amazing Grace' admirably covers slavery, abolition, sedition and spiritual themes in 1740s England and Africa, complete with spirited acting and inspirational ballads and anthems...It's a long time coming, but the title song is performed in the beautiful and emotional finale. By then we've been on quite a journey with these characters, and the hymn resonates with relevance and hope, both for their personal stories and the still-uneasy state of racial relations today." Full Review

75
NorthJersey.com

"The authors load up on the atrocious behavior to make Newton’s redemption that much more impressive. But when it finally happens, it comes much too quickly...The songs and book of 'Amazing Grace' are no more than serviceable, but the show does offer theatrical pleasures. It moves with good energy, and there are vivid scenic effects." Full Review

55
WNBC

"The tone of scenes in the first act oscillates wildly, from striking and severe to overly smug and smirky. The songs are confident, if not quite memorable...In an epilogue, Young begins an a cappella version of the song. Within a minute, some audience members were standing with an evangelical hand raised to God. The moment is as lump-in-the-throat as it sounds. It seemed disconnected from the rest of the musical, and was the first time during 'Amazing Grace' my emotions were truly stirred." Full Review

90
CurtainUp

"Far from light-hearted but deeply felt and spiritedly envisioned, 'Amazing Grace' is another stirring historical period musical adventure...It remains to be seen whether his lilting arias and stirring anthems and the the impressive text will ultimately validate him as a major musical find. What I do know is that Smith and his production associates have given us an amazing show with an abundance of grit and grace." Full Review

65
USA Today

"If 'Grace' has the courage of its convictions, it shows less daring, and little invention, as a creative work. Mostly generic, sometimes bombastic score and stilted dialogue...The standing ovation that followed surely included more skeptical folks who were, if not converted, moved by this flawed musical's open heart and chutzpah." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
73
Avg Score

35
Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow, Misguided, Unworthy

See it if you see everything on Bway. The story is horrible (slave trade), the characters unlikable, the music and lyrics lousy. Why go???

Don't see it if you have standards. The only good song is Amazing Grace, but its healing powers are unearned. I felt I was "lost" and I wasn't found.

Also At the end of Act I, there was a stunning underwater visual of the dro... Read more Read less

85
Epic, Exquisite, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if big LOUD musicals rock your world. There's a lot to be had here. Excellent cast, tough subject-matter masterfully staged, stunning ending.

Don't see it if anything to do with slavery and seeing it portrayed live will upset you. There are no short-cuts here, but it's tastefully portrayed. Epic.

79
Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if you are interested in the history of this song, southern American history, a Christian experience, etc.

Don't see it if slaves in cages, slave auctions, etc., will upset you. This is not a light entertainment; it is a man's awakening and it gets rough at times

30
Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated, Fluffy

See it if You don't mind historical inaccuracies and bad writing.

Don't see it if you won't, it closed.

26
Ambitious, Excruciating, Cliched, Slow

See it if you want a plodding history lesson on the evils of slavery.

Don't see it if you've seen Hamilton. That show's genius at turning history into compelling musical theater makes Amazing Grace's faults even more glaring.

67
Profound, Indulgent, Disappointing, Slow, Great singing

See it if you want to hear the best rendition of Amazing Grace ever

Don't see it if you are hoping for the resonance the film had; they somehow didn't build the emotional significance throughout

72
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Riveting, Great staging

See it if If you like entertaining music and great performances. (specifically, Josh Young shirtless) and a stunning act 1 finale.

Don't see it if If you want a strongly written book.

Also You don't have to be religious to enjoy it. I loved it and am an athei... Read more Read less

69
Ambitious, Dizzying, Epic, Thought-provoking, Confusing

See it if you want to see a highly flawed, yet highly ambitious, show that has some deeply disturbing slavery themes and depictions, and great sets

Don't see it if a show that tried too hard to be everything, so ended up with a lack of a good central focus, leaving it unsatisfying at the end

69
Relevant, Great staging, Fluffy

See it if you'd like to see a so-so musical of the story behind the man who composed Amazing Grace

Don't see it if you're expecting a show about the creation of the song 'Amazing Grace'

79
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you are into history

Don't see it if you want something more light-hearted.

79
Emotional, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if like Christian based plays.

Don't see it if don't want to know about the slave trade.

83
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Great singing, Great staging

See it if Amazing staging and singing couldn't hold the audience. I enjoyed it however and the graphic slave scenes were illuminating. True story.

Don't see it if You are looking for a light hearted feel good play

45
Banal, Disappointing, Slow, Hilarious

See it if you want to hear the song Amazing Grace (performed almost 2 hours and 20 minutes into the show).

Don't see it if you have the choice of seeing literally anything else or if you want catchy, memorable music.

72
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if You want to know the story behind the song. That was a revelation to me.

Don't see it if You are overtly cynical, an atheist, hate historical musicals, are expecting the next Le Miz.

39
Banal, Disappointing, Slow, Lacking, It tried

See it if you like a musical based on a true story. If you have a strong attachment to the song "Amazing Grace."

Don't see it if you want something riveting.

87
Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you want to feel uncomfortable and moved at the same time. Amazing Christian experience.

Don't see it if you are an atheist and want to ruin the show for everyone else.

65
Ambitious, Epic, Indulgent, Banal, Disappointing

See it if You love historical musicals, no matter how weak the material.

Don't see it if You expect this to be a religious experience.

50
Thought-provoking, Banal, Cliched, Dated

See it if you are moved by stories of religious enlightenment and enjoy over-the-top-ness

Don't see it if you value good writing and telling a story well... also it's a bit racist

30
Just not entertaining

See it if It's hard to articulate.. Cast was sooo talented and the story is interesting.. It just was not entertaining for whatever reason

Don't see it if Just don't see it unless you want a very expensive nap

90
Absorbing, Delightful, Thought-provoking, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you are a fan of great singing, and of the featured song

Don't see it if you like a more contemporary topic

64
Ambitious, Disappointing, Cliched, Slow

See it if you want to see performers try their hardest with subpar material.

Don't see it if you need a story that is more original or music that will affect you in any way

34
Indulgent, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow, Dated

See it if you want to know about the song.

Don't see it if you want a fast paced show.

98
Original, Enchanting, Masterful, Must see, Great writing

See it if you want to get your mind blown and find the true story behind the original song

Don't see it if you don't want to cry

85
Great acting, Romantic, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if IF U like British history (circa 18th C.) & a "clean" portrayal of Romance with a little Faith message in between U will really enjoy this!!

Don't see it if The Biblical references may offend atheists & die-hard agnostics, but most of the faith moments are very subtly played out in the text.

88
Original, Intense, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like history and great music

Don't see it if If you don't like to cry