By Adam Hetrick
25 Apr 2013
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
Based on the 1992 film that starred Steve Martin, Leap of Faith premiered on Broadway in April 2012. The production was short-lived, however, and played only 24 previews and 20 regular performances.
Gospel and country punctuate the score by Academy and Tony Award winner Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Newsies, Aladdin) and Slater (Love Never Dies). The libretto is by Tony Award winner Warren Leight (Side Man) and original screenwriter Janus Cercone.
A Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records cast album preserves the score. It was released in December 2012.
According to the creators, "The musical tells the story of 'Reverend' Jonas Nightingale, an electrifying performer and rabble-rouser, who is travelling with his ministry. When his bus breaks down in the middle of a small Kansas town, Jonas plans an impromptu revival to take the entire town for a ride. The some-time reverend pitches a tent and invites the townspeople to his revival; however, the sheriff, a woman named Marla McGowan, is determined to stop Jonas from taking the people's money. Jonas is torn between greed and love when he becomes romantically involved with the sheriff. Her love forces the cynical Reverend to come to terms with his faith and his life."
Menken previously told Playbill.com that his score is flavored with the sounds of gospel, country and American roots music. He explained, "There are some songs that are very heartfelt that, I would say, are in more of a Broadway idiom, for lack of a better word: Basically, songs that come from the part of the soul that doesn't speak, necessarily, in a specific style but speaks in the appropriate musical vocabulary that will complement the rest of the score. That tends to be kind of a gut level thing, and you just can feel when it's gonna be appropriate to the character without necessarily defining what the style of it is."
The original Broadway cast featured Raúl Esparza as Jonas Nightingale, Kendra Kassebaum as Jonas' sister and partner in crime, Sam Nightingale; Kecia Lewis-Evans as bookkeeper Ida Mae Sturdevant, one of Jonas' followers; Leslie Odom, Jr. (TV's "Smash") as student-clergyman Isaiah Sturdevant, Ida Mae's son; Krystal Joy Brown as his sister Ornella Sturdevant; and Talon Ackerman as Marla's disabled and hopeful son Jake McGowan.
View highlights from the original Broadway production below.