While the song “Amazing Grace” is well-known, many may not know the story behind the song, or the man who wrote it — John Newton. That story is what the musical “Amazing Grace,” which will be performed at Emens Auditorium Tuesday, is about.

Christopher Smith decided to write and create a musical about John Newton after finding a book about him in the library.

“I was just looking for a book to kill some time and I found a book about John Newton,” Smith said. “At first, I thought it’d be a feature film. When I was reading his autobiography I said, ‘Wow, this is a film’ and then I got to the end and found out he wrote ‘Amazing Grace’ and I said, ‘This is a musical.’”

Where: Emens Auditorium

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: Can be purchased through the Emens Box Office or online 

It took Smith 18 years to write the musical and have it produced on Broadway. During that time, Smith said the musical became even more relevant because of how the country was changing.

“Right as we were getting to Broadway, Ferguson [protests] had just happened,” Smith said. “Then President Obama actually sang ‘Amazing Grace’ on television the second day of our run on Broadway.”

When finally making it to Broadway, Smith was able to watch as his vision for the musical came to life. 

“At the end of the show these regular old New Yorkers, they were getting up and hugging each other, like strangers across the aisle and I couldn’t believe it,” Smith said. “They were different races, different ages, and everybody’s just weeping. It’s just really wild to see so many people so emotionally affected by it.”

When considering productions to be performed at Emens, Kristi Chambers, assistant director of marketing and communications at Emens, said the musical’s emotional impact and success on Broadway is why it was chosen.

Chambers said the musical is “brimming with emotion” and the audience will be “surprised and enlightened” by the musical, and Smith agrees. 

“Amazing Grace is the story of a man who went down a dark road and came back, and that’s why people are so emotionally affected by it,” Smith said. “Humanity’s search for forgiveness and redemption is universal, and I think the reason this story is so helpful is that John in his search really finds that redemption, and I think that really resonates with people, as it should.”

Contact Elena Stidham with comments at emfloyd2@bsu.edu