Friday, July 30, 2010

You've Got To Have Faith

You've Got To Have Faith

Sometimes, all you need is a little faith.

Even though I've never aspired to become anything more than just your average audience member, I realize that by writing a theatre blog, as well as the sheer number of shows I see in any given year, I'm anything but average.

Average looking? Sure. Average thinking? Check.

But average theatregoer. Hardly.

Because of my fascination and passion for all things emanating from the stage, I've long since learned that not every play or musical you hear about comes to fruition. I've written about countless shows that have yet to see the light of day. It's enough to lose your faith, even when some seem to gestate for what seems like eternity.

On that latter point, when Steve On Broadway was still less than a month old, I wrote about one musical that had all the trappings of a potential blockbuster. I wrote in part:

[T]he casting news that may have received the most buzz has been that surrounding Hugh Jackman and his participation in the Taylor Hackford-helmed workshop of Leap Of Faith (based on the 1992 movie with Steve Martin)
Finally, this fall, Leap Of Faith will enjoy its world premiere engagement at Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, beginning September 11 through October 24. However, those putting their trust in Hackford to direct Jackman in the role of fake faith healer Jonas Nightingale might find themselves disappointed to know that neither is attached to the current production.

That is, until they learn about how it has since been cast. Personally, I couldn't be more delighted, especially as one of Broadway's brightest male leads has assumed the role of Jonas: Raúl Esparza.

Before Esparza ever performed on Broadway, I was fortunate to witness his breathtaking portrayal of Che in a touring revival of Evita over ten years ago. His performance was so assured and charismatic that I was thrilled when he began appearing on the Great White Way. I've watched his remarkable ascent ever since as he's earned four Tony nominations, three Drama Desk Awards and a special place in our heart for enduring the Piven fish fiasco early last year.

Should Leap Of Faith prove a winner, perhaps Esparza will finally earn that long-deserved Tony that's eluded him so far.

I should hasten to add that Esparza isn't the only reason I'm looking forward to this show. With score from Alan Menken and Glenn Slater and libretto from Slater and Janus Cercone, the Rob Ashford-helmed musical will also star Brooke Shields, Nicholas Barasch, Jarrod Emick, Kendra Kassebaum, Kecia Lewis-Evans and Leslie Odom, Jr. (and special shout out to chorus member Karl Warden).

Ahmanson Theatre describes Leap Of Faith as follows:

You’ll be dancing in the aisles when con man Jonas Nightingale brings his gospel-charged tent revival to rain-starved Kansas. Four-time Tony Award-nominee Raúl Esparza and Golden Globe Award-nominee Brooke Shields will star in this world premiere Broadway-bound new musical.

Based on the movie with Steve Martin, Leap Of Faith boasts a brand new score from 8-time Oscar winner Alan Menken ("The Little Mermaid," "Beauty And The Beast") and directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford, helmer of the recent Taper favorite, Parade.

When his traveling ministry breaks down in a small Kansas town, part-time reverend and full-time con artist (Esparza) quickly pitches a tent and invites the locals to a revival. The sheriff is determined to stop Jonas from separating the townspeople from their money, but Jonas’ real challenge arises when he meets a pretty waitress (Shields) and her son, whose love forces an ultimate cynic to take a real leap of faith.

Here is the Leap Of Faith promo trailer:

For me, the most exciting part of the Ahmanson's description was to read that Leap Of Faith is "Broadway-bound." Whether or not it will find a Broadway berth yet this year is another matter. But with Come Fly Away flying the coop in September, perhaps the Marquis just might make the perfect home in time for the holidays?

Perhaps all we just need is a little faith.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 30 July, 2010, Blogger ScottE. said...

Sounds exciting. I loved the movie--haven't seen it in ages--and Raul is just wonderful! Thanks for the news.

At 30 July, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I have to confess that I've never seen the movie. But I agree about Mr. Esparza.

At 30 July, 2010, Blogger The Tyro Theatre Critic said...

This is the best news... like... ever... Would you believe it I'm going to be in LA in September. I can't wait.



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