'Amazing Grace': Inside the Broadway Musical

ABC News' Ron Claiborne on the musical exploring the life of "Amazing Grace" writer John Newton.
3:14 | 08/25/15

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Transcript for 'Amazing Grace': Inside the Broadway Musical
A me. It was as pointed as it was unexpected. Three. This. President Obama eulogize in one of the victims of the Charleston massacre. Ending singing amazing grace. A moment act. We've emotion. Enter from stage left. Nearly 800 miles away in New York City actors and actresses were rehearsing for a new musical. Called amazing grace when the president sang that song. Our hearts just opened and we just felt. There was no wonder some. The musical tells the story of John knew the eighteenth century englishman who wrote the lyrics. Christopher Smith who wrote the play and music spent eighteen years getting it to Broadway. A journey to began in 1997. When he was a police officer in a Philadelphia suburb. And by chance happen to pick up Newton's autobiography on a library visit. And I realized that that one of the most like Connick songs. In the western world. Was a result of this life this transformed life. As a young man Newton was and about eight B a slave owner and a slave trader. In the show's most disturbing scene a group of slaves packed inside of a crate who's brought onto the stage that. Pain and that. Horror is. It's something that. You describe. Veteran Broadway actor Chuck Cooper place but Putin new long time personal servant his sleigh. Your character is. Put in chains. What was that like to play that it's I can't describe that that's. Emotional it's hard it's hard it's very. Students transformation comes when he shipped almost sinks in the storm and he prays to god to save him. Honest about. Who it wants and what he did and when he says he was a wretch that's not hyperbole. He really was Iraq. It's only at the very end do we hear the song. And every night people in the audience rise from their seats. Did that surprise you know. No because the song is so powerful that the song transcends. It's everything it it may will be. The most powerful. Song the if this song with so much emotionally wrenching. Fund by many voices. Or might just. For this week. Ron Claiborne ABC news New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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