Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. And how sweet it was, the musical based on the beloved song that we all know and love is coming to a close. The news is bittersweet, as it was the first musical to open this Broadway season and will be the first to close. After having played 24 previews and 114 regular performances, Amazing Grace is closing October 25.
The show, which follows John Netwon’s journey that gave birth to the abolitionist movement, cost a whooping $16 million to get off the ground. It was marketed to church groups and African-American audiences with the goal that the inspirational story of John Newton’s religious conversion, and the realistic description of the slave trade, would interest these ticket buyers. However, that strategy did not work out in their favor. Quite the opposite, during the many weeks the show was running, the theatre was only half full.
Amazing Grace played a pre-Broadway engagement in Chicago in fall 2014 and a national tour of the production is in the works. “We are incredibly disappointed in the show’s performance at the box office on Broadway,” lead producer Carolyn Rossi Copeland told the New York Times on Wednesday. “I look forward to bringing this story of hope and redemption to audiences around the country with our upcoming national tour.”
There are a lot of things that could have factored into the the early closing. The target audience they were going for might have felt a bit uncomfortable watching, they simply couldn’t afford to go, or they just weren’t interested. I remember seeing the show opening night and being extremely captivated by it. I also had theatre friends who told me they flat out thought it was a show to appease white guilt and, therefore, were uninterested. Either way, it’s disappointing to see a show with a majority of people of color have to bow out early, when some of the same old shows get to stay. But this is life, and things don’t always work out the way we want.
What I’m most sad about is not seeing Chuck Cooper, Harriett D. Foy, Laiona Michelle, and Rachael Ferrera give their all on stage, but we at Broadway Black know it’s only a matter of time before they wow audiences again.
Because it’s just so hard hard to say goodbye, check out some of these exclusive pics of some of the cast enjoying their success, while remaining humble in the process.
In July cast members Harriet D. Foy and Laiona Michelle were invited to the United Nations for a meet and greet with Ambassador Vandi Chidi Minah of Sierra Leone. This made perfect sense as both ladies portray women from that country. While there, both Foy and Michelle had a moment of self reflection and gratitude.
When visiting the newly built sculptures dedicated to those who were victims of slavery, Michelle noted the following;
Standing in this beautifully moving piece Harriett and I were overcome with a deep sense of pain, understanding and profound sorrow. It was quite humbling. Harriet could not touch the sculpture of what seemed to be a child in the hull of the ship where hundreds would be crammed together for the voyage to some unknown place to face untold horrors. This is my ancestry and I had to pay homage because I truly stand on the shoulders of giants. We tend to take for granted the enormous grace, strength and beauty of which we are built. I was reminded in one instance, of that legacy.
And we will sure enough miss the beauty of Amazing Grace. If you haven’t made your way to the Nederlander Theatre, buy your tickets now and experience Amazing Grace for yourself before October 25th!
Take a look back on #OpeningNight with our video below!