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Leap of Faith

At the St. James Theatre located at 246 West 46th Street.   It opens on April 26, 2012 and runs until December 30, 2012.

The musical is based on the 1992 America dramedy film directed by Richard Pearce.  It starred Steve Martin, Debra Winger, Lolita Davidovich and Liam Neeson.

The musical premiered at the Ahmanson Theatre,  Los Angles with Rob Ashford as director and choreographer.  It played September 2, 2010 to October 24, 2010 and starred Raul Esparza in the role of Jonas Nightengale (Steve Martin role in the film) and Broooke Shields as Marla (originated by Lolita Davidovich in the film).  In this production Raul will play Jonas and Jessica Phillips as Marla.

Leap of Faith is being directed by Christopher Ashley.  Among the shows he has directed are "Memphis" (2009).  He was nominated for the Outer Critics Award and a Tony nomination for Best Director for this show. "Xanadu" (2007) and "The Rocky Horror Show" (2000 revival).  He received a Tony nomination  for this show.  Sergio Trujillo is the choreographer.  He made his Broadway debut as a performer in 1989 in "Jerome Robbins Broadway".  He was in "Guys and Dolls" (1992) and "Fosse" (1999).  He made his choreographic debut in 2005 in  "All Shook Up". The same year he choreographed "Jersey Boys" and was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for outstanding Choreographer for this musical

Raul Esparza has been nominated four Tony Awards for his roles in "Taboo" (2004), "Company" (2006), "The Homecoming" (2007) and "Speed the Plow" (2008).  This makes him the second performer after Boyd Gaines to be nominated in all four acting categories a performer is eligible for at the Tonys.

The action takes place at the St. James Theatre, New York and Sweetwater, Kansas.  The time is the present.

Jonas Nightingale (Raul Esparza) begins the show preaching to the audience as if they are in a tent. He points to people telling them they are sinners.  His choir "Angels of Mercy" are in their robes singing in the background.

Next we are in Kansas.  His van has broken down and he has no money to repair it.  Jonas can not go very far to put up a tent  because he is wanted by the law  for various reasons in the different areas he's in. His sister Sam (Kendra Kassenbaum) suggests they stay in Sweetwater for three days.  The town has not had rain in a long time.

The law,  Marla McGowan (Jessica Phillips) is on to him and tells him to leave town.  Some how he convinces her to let them stay.  She tells him Helen Keller can see thru you.  Her son Jake (Talon Ackerman) is in a wheel chair and can not walk as the result of a car accident that killed his father.  He wants to believe Jonas can help him.

Ida Mae Sturdevant (Kecia Lewis-Evans) and her daughter Ornella (Krystal Joy Brown) help run the the organization and the "Angels of Mercy".  Sam feeds Jonas information on the people in the town while he preaching.  Ida's son Isiah (Leslie Odon Jr.) comes to visit.  He is going to school to learn how to be a minister.  Isiah sees what is going on and want to expose Jonas.

What can I say miracles happen.

The duets between Raul and Jessica and Raul and Kendra blends so well it like one beautiful voice.  They harmonize so well.

Krystal Joy Brown and Kecia Lewis-Evan belt out a songs that rocks the audience.

The show is entertaining but  that's just it.  There is no fire or gusto. Unlike "Sister Act" where you want to jump up an shout amen.  It did not come alive until the end when Raul has the stage to himself and sings "Jonas Soliloquy".  He radiates and sings  with all his heart.  The final scene was the best when the company sang "Leap of Faith".  To bad this number came at the end and not at the beginning.

I was impressed by the choreography.  It was well done and impressive.

The angels passed the basket.  I wondered if the gave the audience fake money .  However in Playbill it said "all proceeds from the revival's collection baskets will be donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fight Aids".

Review by Rozanna Radkovich.

Photos by Annazor.      

          

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