Theater review: ‘Leap of Faith’

Even Raul Esparza's talent and charm can't save this show; that would take a real miracle.

“Leap of Faith” is the latest in the recent trend of religion-themed musicals on Broadway, joining “Sister Act,” “Godspell,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and, of course, “Book of Mormon.” This one spreads the experience past the proscenium, transforming the orchestra and balconies of the St. James Theatre into a boisterous revival act. Camera operators roam the aisles, broadcasting the preaching and prosthelytizing onto mounted screens – actually, more like a megachurch than a traveling tent show. This setup promises a lot more than it actually pays out, much like the miracle-mongering at hand.

The story kicks off when the Jonas Nightingale and the Angels of Mercy bus breaks down outside of Topeka, Kansas. The conman at the helm decides his crew will have to set their stakes in the much smaller town of Sweetwater. The townspeople are on the verge of bankruptcy due to an ongoing drought. But Jonas believes that his shysters can still get enough money through a three-day revival to get back on the road. Central figures in the story are Sam Nightingale (Kendra Kassebaum), Jonas’ partner-in-crime sister, and Marla McGowan (Jessica Phillips), the bored town sheriff and predictable love interest. The lines are pretty clear on who’s good (the hopeful crippled child) and who’s not (the guy with his hand in your pocket). This could work if the two sides were evenly matched, but the play is too heavily wholesome and you never doubt the Nightingales won’t change their tune.

“Leap of Faith” offers flashy costumes, big gospel numbers and, of course, the requisite romantic storyline. Alan Menken’s rich music with Glen Slater’s lyrics goes a long way, but can’t quite compensate for stilted dialogue or an illogical book. We almost wish it would just go full camp; with a dash of dark humor and a little nudity, this could be a great cult classic. As it stands, the show could almost survive by virtue of standing pat – being no more or less than a ticket-buyer expects – but it won’t. It suffers fatally from a safe, predictable plot, and it can’t be saved by its potential or heart.

Read our interview with Raul Esparza for more insight on Jonas Nightingale and “Leap of Faith.”

‘Leap of Faith’
St. James Theatre
246 W. 44th Street
$47-$137
www.leapoffaithbroadway.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Easter Egg hunt horror as skydiver plummets to…

A FAMILY Easter egg hunt ended in horror when a skydiver plummeted to his death in a New York garden after his parachute failed to…

News

Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…

News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox walk off with…

Red Sox pick up first walk off win of 2014

MLB

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at…

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at 11 a.m.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.