If you need an escape, SCCT’s performance of Amazing Grace will take you away! Amazing Grace will make you chuckle while reminding you of the comforts of family and the power of imaginative storytelling. Adapted from the 1991 book by British author Mary Hoffman, Amazing Grace highlights themes that are just as relevant now as they were almost three decades ago. Whimsical storytelling along with some toe-tapping calypso music will keep everyone in your family engaged in this rich tale.
Special thanks are extended to SCCT for providing two tickets so we could review the show for readers.
About Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace is the first in a series of books about Grace, her ma and her nana. Grace is “a girl who loved stories.” Books. Movies. Or stories from her vivacious Trinidadian nana. All of these are fodder for Grace–and her love of acting. In Amazing Grace, Grace takes on Joan of Arc, Anansi the Spider, the Trojan Horse, Hiawatha, and Mowgli from the Jungle Book, to name a few.
When Grace’s teacher announces that the class will perform Peter Pan, Grace sets her sites on playing the lead role. However, classmates tell her that she can’t be Peter Pan. She’s a girl. And she’s black. However, her family inspires and supports her: “You can be anything you want, Grace, if you put your mind to it.” Grace wows her classmates at auditions and expertly handles the role of Peter Pan.
This book was forward-thinking for the time in which it was published. By all accounts, Hoffman saw a need for more diversity in children’s literature and intentionally crafted a black female child as a heroine. Hoffman went on to author six more books about Grace.
SCCT Gives Amazing Grace’s Stories Life
What this performance does that the book can not do is allow Grace and Nana’s storytelling abilities to shine! Nana’s rhythmic clap-clap-clapping draws in the audience’s attention and her vivacious character keeps you hanging on to tidbits from The Jungle Book, the West African folktale Anansi the Spider, and Joan of Arc, to name a few. Grace expertly acts out her Nana’s tales with the whimsy that only a child can possess, using common household items as props and costumes.
The depiction of stories within the Amazing Grace story serves a purpose. When Grace and her “army” of friends take on the special mission of going to the market for a loaf of bread and facing the grumpy shopkeeper, Grace reminds us that “You don’t win a war with guns.” Rather, Grace’s secret weapon is a special combo of imagination, storytelling, and spunky charm. Grace and her army are victorious, returning home unscathed and with a loaf of bread. Stories and imagination can make something mundane (or even scary) fun and joyous.
My five-year old son, who was sluggish due to a sleepover the night prior, found the calypso music upbeat. The steel drums had him bopping in his seat. I also caught him chuckling at the one-liners (“I’m making a pepper pot. It’s going to be hot, hot, hot!”). We’re still chuckling about the scene when Grace and her army of friends hide under a blanket to disguise themselves as a horse: someone gives away their hiding spot by proclaiming “I have to go to the bathroom!”
After a few stressful days spent with worrisome and relentless news headlines, I needed an escape and Amazing Grace provided just that. Fabulous storytelling, upbeat calypso music, and—one of my favorites—a captivating dance solo by the character of Rosalie were just what I needed. I also really enjoyed the playful kitchen scene between the three generations of Grace’s family. It reminded me of time spent with my own mother and grandmother when I was Grace’s age. All in all, this performance is heartwarming and uplifting.
Who is Amazing Grace for?
Amazing Grace, with a run time of about 45 minutes, moves quickly and captures a lot in that short period. The play’s music and dance scene will keep younger audience members engaged. The whimsical storytelling and themes of Amazing Grace will surely resonate with older kids and adults, as well.
Want to Go?
Amazing Grace is staged at the Kroc Center. The remaining performances of this production have been cancelled.
Tickets are priced at $10.50 each and are general admission. You can purchase tickets on-line through 5 pm the Friday prior to the performance or they may be purchased at the door.