The Broadway, film, TV and print star released a statement Oct. 4 saying that "prior film and television commitments" prevent her from continuing with the creative process for the new musical Leap of Faith, which has a score by Glenn Slater and Alan Menken.
"I'm very disappointed that I'm not able to continue my association with this project," Shields said in a statement. "Being a part of Leap of Faith's world premiere was an absolutely thrilling experience. I wish the producers and creative team much success as they prepare to bring this wonderful show to New York."
Shields played the role of Marva in the premiere of Leap of Faith, inspired by the film of the same name, in fall 2010 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Her co-star, playing charismatic flim-flam preacher Jonas Nightengale, was Tony Award nominee Raul Esparza. Rob Ashford directed and choreographed in L.A. Future plans for Leap of Faith will be announced soon.
Of her time working on the tryout of Leap of Faith, Shields (whose Broadway credits are for replacing other stars in Grease, Wonderful Town and The Addams Family) told Playbill magazine recently, "I was so intent on [originating a role] for the longest [time], but after that experience, I'm acutely aware now it has to be perfect for me to go out on that limb."
She added, "If you replace, you have nothing to lose. It doesn't rest on you. They're just hoping you can keep it open. With a new show, you must be clear and know what you're getting into. I was a bit naïve about that. I'm able to keep coming back to Broadway because I do all of it well enough — but it's everything. If you take out one of those things and just compare me to the best in that field — whether it's dancing or singing or acting — I'm not going to win that battle. Take away two out of the three and leave me just singing in the spotlight, I'm going to lose. The role [in Leap of Faith] had virtually no dancing, no humor. I'm proud of what I did...but I think what they wanted was somebody above the title with Raúl. The show is all him, and he's so extraordinary in it, but what he needs around him is not just someone to get them in the seats. I felt fenced [in] through the whole thing, but I learned it's better to have learned that out of town." Shields is looking for new work, she said.
"I'm always on the lookout. Maybe a straight play is the next thing that I should do after this. It might make sense to take a little bit of a breather from musicals. I sorta agreed to do The Addams Family because I wanted to come back to Broadway to experience what I know and love about it. I needed to go back into something where I knew that hard work can be directly proportionate to my enjoying it."