Leap of Faith, Menken's Gospel-Filled Musical Comedy, Will Premiere in L.A.

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28 Jan 2010

Following a recent Manhattan workshop presentation of Leap of Faith, the new musical with songs by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, Center Theatre Group is taking its own leap of faith: It will produce the world premiere this summer at the Ahmanson Theatre.



Based on the 1992 film comedy about a sham evangelist named Jonas Nightingale, who inspires a gullible town, the show is expected to begin at the Ahmanson in Los Angeles in early September for a run through mid-October, according to a casting notice.

Tony Award winner Rob Ashford (Thoroughly Modern Millie) will direct and choreograph what is expected to be a Broadway-bound production.

No official announcement has been made, and therefore no casting has been revealed. Raul Esparza (Company, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) played the flim-flam preacher in the January workshop, which also featured Tony Award winner Sutton Foster.

Leap of Faith has a book by original screenwriter Janus Cercone with Glenn Slater, music by Academy Award winner Menken and lyrics by Slater. Michael Kosarin is music supervisor, Brent-Alan Huffman is music director.

Rehearsals will begin mid-July in New York City, and then continue in Los Angeles.

The Ahmanson and Center Theatre Group presented the world premieres of Curtains, 9 to 5 and The Drowsy Chaperone, which all landed on Broadway.

The 1992 film "Leap of Faith" starred Steve Martin as Jonas, and featured Debra Winger, Liam Neeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, La Chanze and more.

Menken and Slater wrote new songs for Broadway's The Little Mermaid and the musical Sister Act the Musical (seen regionally and in London). Slater is writing lyrics for Love Never Dies, the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. Menken's stage music credits include Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors, King David, and the films "Enchanted," "Hercules," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Pocahontas," "Aladdin" and "Newsies."

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Among the show's characters, according to the casting notice:

Jonas Nightingale: Male, 30s-40s. Fast talking charismatic phony evangelist. A showman in every sense of the word. Terrific rock/gospel voice and comedic chops.

Marva Mcgowan: Female, 30s. A hardworking waitress and devoted single mother. She is extremely protective of her son and often puts up a tough exterior that allows her to push on while protecting her own heart. Must have a great voice with a pop belt and comedic ability.

Sam: Female, 20s-30s. Jonas' younger sister and second in command. The voice of reason behind Jonas' flamboyant ministry and an excellent business woman, stage manager and producer. Fiercely loyal to her brother and willing to do anything to protect him. Must have a great voice with a pop belt and comedic ability.

Ida Mae Sturdevant: Female, African-American, 40s-60s. Leader of the Angels of Mercy. A proud mother who believes in doing what it takes to send her son to Bible college. A tender but strong soul who has lived a hard life and must keep moving forward to survive. Must have a thrilling voice full of soul.

Ricky Sturdevant: Male, African-American, 20s. Ida Mae's Son. A young charismatic by-the-books seminary student who's short on experience and long on passion. He's a natural leader. Must have a terrific tenor voice.

Boyd Mcgowan: Male, 9-12. Marva's son. Wise beyond his years. He longs to escape the mundanity of small town Kansas. Crippled by a car accident, his faith is unwavering and he believes that [he will be healed] when the time is right. Must have a clear, pure vice with lots of control and be able to belt to a high Eb.

Sheriff Will Braverman: Male, 40s-50s. Good hearted and practical. He takes his job seriously and is dedicated to the survival of his town. A no-nonsense kind of guy who is wise enough to see beyond the veneer of a traveling con artist. Should have a great voice.