Amazing Grace

So I get to the theatre alone because my wife had to work late and when I went to pick her up at work she saw no end in sight of her meetings so I drove the rest of the way to the city by myself, parked and didn’t write down or even acknowledge what level my car was parked in. When I get to the lobby to give them my ticket they said this was the wrong date that I was supposed to come on Saturday. I went to the box office and then they gave me center orchestra seating on the aisle, a total upgrade.
Looking through the program before the show I didn’t recognize anyone, which is strange I usually know someone from at least the crew.
There were several people though in front of me who were in house seats that were friends of the cast and crew so I heard a lot of buzz about the show. I hope it’s good. Please let it be good.
The first act started slowly as the lead actor Josh Young playing John Newton gave a stilted performance. To me it seems like he is not listening and in his own play at times. He is reacting to motivation that just isn’t there. Perhaps his reactions are right but the actors that are cueing his lines are not giving him anything to react to. The music in the first act is beautiful but I do think that the second number that Young and and Tom Hewitt (Captain Newton) sing needs new lyrics as they sing different lines at the same time and even though the harmonies are beautiful the lyrics create a rhyming dissonance.
Christopher Gattelli’s choreography is great. It is not overdone for the period. He uses quadrilles in the first act and diametrically uses African dance in the second act to show the relation of the black race and the white race without saying a word. This is perhaps the most artistic part of the show. During intermission I looked back and actually saw Gattelli in the back row taking notes and talking with colleagues. As I left the theatre I told him I thought his dancing was very good.
The show overall is good. It does need some work and perhaps recasting the lead. He has a great voice, but the show needs someone who can handle the acting as well. I would also make him more reckless in the beginning. He is too conservative to be perceived as a loser. There are great parts of the show that I would definitely not change like the swimming sequence and the ending Amazing Grace song.
[button link=”http://plays.patrickstinson.com/category/b/”]Grade: B[/button]

Posted in B, Broadway in Chicago, Fall 2014 and tagged .

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