Leap of Faith Preyed Upon by Carnivorous Critics. Why Did Broadway Show Close?
On Sunday, May 13th Leap of Faith closed its doors at Broadway's St. James Theater. It played 24 previews and 20 regular performances. The producers said, “Although we love our show and very much appreciate both our many award nominations and the joy of our audiences, we have not been able to achieve a sustainable level of ticket sales to continue. We thank all those who worked so hard over so many years to bring LEAP OF FAITH to Broadway.”
Folks, the show closed in less than two months after opening. What gives? The show was exceptional; I saw it May 8th, Tuesday night, and was gobsmacked. The performances were electric; Raul Esparza, as failed evangelical preacher Jonas Nightingale was amazing, certainly deserving of his Drama Desk award nomination, as was the director and those responsible for the Book, Janus Cercone, who wrote and associate produced the original Paramount movie of the same title, and Warren Leight. Composer Alan Menken's music showed his amazing versatility, ranging from rock to gospel to country to pop.The songs were spot on given the show's themes, relationship conflicts and characterizations.
Supporting cast were every bit as vibrant and brilliant from Kendra Kassebaum who played Nightingale's sister, Jessica Phillips, Nightingale's conscience and love interest, Kecia Lewis-Evans, Nightingale's choir director and the backbone of the ministry, and her level-headed preacher son, Isiah, played by Leslie Odom, Jr. (Nightingale's nemesis). The production numbers were vital, soulful and elevating; the spectacle appropriately flashy and uplifting.
The shows' thematic undercurrents were powerful and human for me as a person of faith. What does it take to survive and live to get to the next day? Faith. Faith brings you through the periods of darkness, storm, drought and soul abyss, periods which clearly impact all of the characters, especially Jonas Nightingale. The preacher damns his relationship with God and disintegrates his belief in himself in attempting the struggle to overcome his failed existence. On his escape from the law to get to the next town and the next day, he runs afoul and smashes up against himself. He is at a crossroads with nothing left, except his talents as a huckster which his rock bottom self knowledge even decries as low down. His self-revelation breaks through his huckster's bravado and gloss and that is a miracle we all need to undergo.Continued on the next page