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REVIEW: 'Leap of Faith' jumps nowhere

With his hooded eyes and sleazy air, Esparza obviously appears thoroughly corrupt as Jonas, but perhaps that’s what the writers and director Christopher Ashley desire so that his inevitable redemption seems doubtful. If his dubious character is not palatable, Esparza burns with energy and sings like the blazes.leap2offaith042612_opt

Jessica Phillips gives the supposedly prudent pushover Marla personal conviction and her songs a smoky country-western resonance. Kecia Lewis-Evans lifts up a powerfully beautiful voice as Ida Mae and a personable Leslie Odom, Jr. makes the crusading Isaiah into more of a tonic than a pill. A very hard-working ensemble injects much jubilance into their music and enthusiasm into their performances.

For all of everyone’s professional heat, however, the retreaded material never catches fire. Although Ashley’s staging is aided by designer Robin Wagner’s typically nimble setting, which thrusts over the orchestra pit and into the stage boxes, the director has trouble adjusting the script’s confusing focus as it shifts between a revival meeting in Manhattan and the principal story set in Kansas.

With so many fresh productions of enjoyable musicals both old and new like “Evita,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and Menken’s own lovable “Newsies” available for customers, the misbegotten “Leap of Faith” doesn’t stand a chance on Broadway.

“Leap of Faith” continues at the St. James Theater, 246 W. 44th St., New York. Call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.leapoffaithbroadway.com.

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Comments (1)
1 Sunday, 29 April 2012 06:09
Chris Scordo
Dropping Brooke Shields from the successful version in LA was an epic fail on the part of the producers. I guess that they wanted Esparza to have the limelight to himself, which is exactly what this show teaches us is wrong. Congratulations Brooke! I hope you feel some vindication. The producers should not have lost faith in you. I live in the theatre district neighborhood and I have seen Brooke after every show she does, stand out in the cold and rain until everly last fan who wants an autograph, gets an autograph, while stars like Katie Cruise, and Mathew Broderick dismiss them. That is a testiment to Brookes character, her heart and humanity. Ironically the exact qualities and values this show is supposed to be about but somehow the show and its producers lost on their way from LA to NY; perhaps in some small town in America. Chris Scordo 418 West 49th 3b, New York, NY 10019

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