Come All Ye Faithful: Raśl Esparza Begins Preaching in Broadway's Leap of Faith April 3

By Kenneth Jones
April 3, 2012

Leap of Faith, the new Broadway musical about a con-man preacher who blows into a small Kansas town, where he spars with a lady sheriff, begins making a joyful noise at the St. James Theatre April 3.



Four-time Tony Award nominee Raúl Esparza plays Jonas Nightingale, a role created by Steve Martin in the source movie of the same name.

Since a 2010 tryout in Los Angeles, the libretto by Janus Cercone (screenwriter of the 1992 film) has been revised by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony winner Warren Leight (Side Man). Among other things, the character of Jonas' potential love interest, Marla McGowan, has been reshaped as the town sheriff (played by Jessica Phillips of Priscilla Queen of the Desert).

The principal cast features Kendra Kassebaum as Sam Nightingale, Kecia Lewis-Evans as Ida Mae Sturdevant, Leslie Odom, Jr. as Isaiah Sturdevant, Krystal Joy Brown as Ornella Sturdevant and Talon Ackerman as Jake McGowan.

Read more about the career of Raúl Esparza, of Broadway's Taboo, Company, The Homecoming, Arcadia and more, in the Playbill Vault

The company includes Hettie Barnhill, Kyle Brenn, Ta’Rea Campbell, Michelle Duffy, Lynorris Evans, Manoly Farrell, Dierdre Friel, Bob Gaynor, Lucia Giannetta, Angela Grovey, Louis Hobson, Tiffany Janene Howard, Grasan Kingsberry, Fletcher McTaggart, Maurice Murphy, Ian Paget, Terita Redd, Eliseo Román, Bryce Ryness, Ann Sanders, C.E. Smith, Danny Stiles, Dennis Stowe, Betsy Struxness, Roberta Wall and Virginia Ann Woodruff.

Opening night is April 26. Directed by Tony Award nominee Christopher Ashley, Leap of Faith has music by Academy and Grammy Award winner Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater (Sister Act, The Little Mermaid).

With the launch of Leap of Faith, composer Menken now has three shows currently running on Broadway (including Sister Act and Newsies). Read more about the musicals of Alan Menken in the Playbill Vault

Jessica Phillips and Raúl Esparza
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Menken 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."

Sergio Trujillo (The Addams Family, Jersey Boys and Memphis) is the choreographer.

When his traveling ministry breaks down in a small Kansas town, preacher and con artist Jonas Nightingale (Esparza) pitches a tent and invites the locals to a revival. The town sheriff, Marla McGowan (Phillips) is determined to stop him.

The creative team includes scenic designer Robin Wagner, costume designer William Ivey Long, lighting designer Don Holder, sound designer John Shivers, wigs and hair designer Paul Huntley, make up designer Angelina Avallone, orchestrators Michael Starobin and Joseph Joubert, music superviser and vocal/incidental music arranger Michael Kosarin, dance music arranger Zane Mark, and music director Brent-Alan Huffman.

Leap of Faith is produced on Broadway by Michael Manheim; James D. Stern; Douglas L. Meyer; Marc Routh; Richard Frankel; Tom Viertel; Steven Baruch; Annette Niemtzow; Daryl Roth; Robert G. Bartner; Patricia Monaco; Steven and Shanna Silva; Debi Coleman; Dancap Productions, Inc.; Steve Kaplan, Relativity Media, LLC; Rich Entertainment/JDC Investments; Center Theatre Group; Jujamcyn Theaters in association with Michael Palitz; Melissa Pinsly/Celine Rosenthal; Independent Presenters Network; Christina Papagjika; Broadway Across America; Diana Buckhantz; Pamela Cooper; Endgame Entertainment; Vera Guerin; Leading Investment Co., Ltd; Richard J. Stern; Victor Syrmis; Semlitz/Glaser Productions; associate producer Rebecca Falcon.

Tickets are available through www.telecharge.com, (212) 239-6200. Ticket prices range from $47-$137.

Visit www.leapoffaithbroadway.com.