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Musicals That Said So Much: Leap of Faith

Musicals That Said So Much: Leap of Faith

Since COVID the only song that has been in my head has been “Everybody Says Don’t ” from Anyone Can Whistle. The other night I saw a concert version of the musical Parade and I knew I needed to do a series of shows that were just too ahead of their time. These shows told a truth or truths that the world was not ready to accept. Our first of the series was Anyone Can Whistle, today we add on Leap of Faith.

Leap of Faith became a stage musical based on the 1992 American movie of the same name, which starred Steve Martin. The music is by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Janus Cercone and Slater was about a con man posing as a man of faith, who is redeemed by the love of a good woman.

The musical premiered in September 2010 in Los Angeles for a limited run through October, directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford. The musical opened on Broadway in April 2012.

In LA the cast included Raul Esparza as Jonas Nightingale and Brooke Shields as Marla McGowan. A workshop was held in May 2008, with Taylor Hackford directing. The cast included Raul Esparza and Elizabeth Stanley. Another workshop was held in New York in early 2010, with Sutton Foster and a new director, Rob Ashford.

The show opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre in previews on April 3, 2012, and officially on April 26. Raul Esparza, Jessica Phillips and Kendra Kassebaum played the lead roles, with direction by Christopher Ashley and choreography by Sergio Trujillo. The book was revised by Warren Leight. The production closed on May 13, 2012 after 24 previews and 20 performances.

The show followed con artist, “Reverend” Jonas Nightingale, who is traveling with his ministry, but his bus breaks down in a small Kansas town. The some-time reverend pitches a tent and invites the townspeople to a revival. However, the sheriff, a woman named Marla McGowan, is determined to stop Jonas from taking the people’s money. Jonas is challenged when he becomes romantically involved with the sheriff. Her love forces the cynical Reverend to come to terms with his life.

That year Leap of Faith, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Once were the Tony nominated musicals.

What makes me add this show to my list and has Leap of Faith as one of the shows that profoundly affected my life is that at the end, the reverend who in a sense is unredeemable gets redeemed. As he goes legit the curtain behind him is raised and a mirror reveals the audience as the real hypocrites. We are the ones who need to be redeemed, who need to be shown the truth. Audiences couldn’t except that message! Maybe, just maybe now we can.

Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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