Broadway and Belief: My Faith and My Life in the Theater

Amy Sapp

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Growing up and going to school in the South, I spent most of my life in an environment where those around me shared my basic spiritual ideologies and religious faith. While no one’s journey in faith is identical to anyone else’s, I rarely found myself in circumstances in which my beliefs were overtly questioned.

However, as a young Southerner (and recent college grad) moving to the “scary” Northeast, I was nervous. As much as the prospect of accepting a dream job on Broadway delighted me, it raised a lot of questions. I’d spent semesters traveling for a slew of internships, but I’d never lived anywhere but my hometown for longer than six months. How would this move affect my spiritual life? I’d grown up watching entertainers who spoke about their religion or faith facing ridicule in the limelight. Was Broadway going to challenge my own deep-seated faith?  

Short answer? Not at all.

I am happy to report that, on the contrary, working in the Broadway community has not only helped to define my own faith but to strengthen it. Here’s how.

I feel a closer connection with God through the powerful music and meaningful plots in Broadway shows.

A couple of years before I moved to New York, I saw the Broadway run of “Amazing Grace”. The show wasn’t a critical success, but for me its soulful message of deliverance hit home. Sitting in the back of the orchestra, I remember Tony nominee Josh Young’s booming vocals as he embodied the former slave trader turned penitent priest who wrote the enduring title hymn. The night ended with the cast leading the whole house in a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace,” uniting an audience from all walks of life and all religious creeds in a moment of peace and forgiveness. It brought me to tears. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d caught a glimpse of my New York future. I wouldn’t be alone in this city.

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