'Amazing Grace' musical comes to Broadway this summer

ReutersJosh Young plays John Newton in the musical which hits Broadway this summer.

Amazing Grace the musical, about the life of slave trader turned abolitionist John Newton who penned the famous hymn, opens on Broadway in July.

The production was first shown in Chicago in October last year, but after a successful run is transferring to the Nederlander Theater with previews from June 25, and opening on July 16.

The music and lyrics are by novice writer Christopher Smith, who co-wrote the book by the same title with Arthur Giron. Newton is played by Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar) alongside a cast which includes Erin Mackey and Tony Award-winning actor Chuck Cooper, directed by Gabriel Barre (The Wild Party).

Newton's journey from naval captain of slave ships to Anglican vicar has been told in numerous ways – notably in the 2006 film Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce's work for the abolition of the slave trade, which also includes his relationship with Newton.

Smith, who is a former police officer, has spent nearly 20 years working with the story, first writing the book and then turning it into musical. In an interview with the New York Times he said he had been inspired by a book about Newton in 1997 and had spent years learning how to write a musical in order to bring it to the masses.