Archive for Christopher Ashley
Reviewers must have been running, not walking, out of the theatre to write these extremely scathing reviews. For them, Leap of Faith is the biggest blunder of the season. They found that even the normally capable hands of the show’s lead, Raúl Esparza, who had, until now, seemed unable to do any wrong, and the talented song-writing team of Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the story felt so confused, desperate and flat as to leave NYTimes reviewer Ben Bratley decreeing: “Leap of Faith is this season’s black hole of musical comedy, sucking the energy out of anyone who gets near it.” Somehow I doubt producers will be placing that quote on any of their materials…that is if the show is around long-enough to create additional marketing. These critics would have it shut down on the spot.
NEW YORK TIMES
“Say amen, somebody. Or, better yet, just whimper the word. We’ve finally come to the end of a hard-run overcrowded spring on Broadway. And here, to sound the final trumpet, is one last musical, a show that appropriately expresses how many a dedicated theatergoer must be feeling right now: plumb tuckered out.”
TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW:
“Want to make a ton of money? Peddle God to fools. Want to lose a ton of money? Invest in a Broadway turkey. You can’t have it both ways. It’s perfectly fine—even desirable—if your religion is crude and nonsensical, but a show as bland and confused as Leap of Faith is not going to make rich men of its producers (among whom are actual church leaders). The fake cash distributed by actors to audience members—so we may place it in the offertory baskets at Jonas Nightingale’s revivalist hoedowns—is all the green this wanly tacky production is likely to see.”
“The last musical of the official Broadway season comes into town like a huckster promising salvation. But it’s the show itself that needs saving. There’s a strong musical somewhere in “Leap of Faith,” which stars a soulful Raul Esparza and has some of Alan Menken’s best songs. But what opened Thursday at The St. James Theatre is sometimes confusing in its tone. Like its main character – the devious faith healer Rev. Jonas Nightingale, ready to scam residents of a down-and-out Kansas town – the musical is hard to pin down. There’s too much misdirection.”
“The 1992 movie no doubt has its fans, but for this reviewer, Leap of Faith was a charmless yawn whose chief distinction was the embarrassing weirdness of watching Steve Martin jogging in a crop top. Part fable about self-discovery and redemption and part takedown of shyster evangelism, the film fudged its position on whether the cynical main character had been truly enlightened by his spiritual journey, or whether such a journey had even occurred. The stage musical improves on the original simply by settling on a point of view. But despite Raul Esparza’s hard-working lead performance and some rousing Gospel numbers from Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the story remains stubbornly unappealing.”
“Sociocultural theses may be written about the season when Broadway got dead serious about Christianity. Not only do we have earnest, grandiose revivals of “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but here comes a true-believing musical, “Leap of Faith,” flat-lined out of the charming and touching 1992 Steve Martin movie about a con man preacher. The show, which has been surrounded by an assortment of rumors and incarnations since 2006, has arrived in director Christopher Ashley’s skimpy, hard-driving production, unsure of its tone and unable to figure out how best to use its star, Raúl Esparza.”
Chad Kimball (Into the Woods, Lennon, The Civil War) and Montego Glover (The Color Purple, Ragtime, Aida), who both originated the starring roles in the show’s pre-Broadway La Jolla and Seattle engagements, will star in the upcoming Broadway production.
The Broadway production will also feature J. Bernard Calloway (The Good Negro), James Monroe Iglehart (The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee), Cass Morgan (Mary Poppins), Derrick Baskin (The Little Mermaid), and Michael McGrath (Spamalot, Is He Dead?). Ensemble members include: Jennifer Allen, Brad Bass, Tracee Beazer, Kevin Covert, Hillary Elk, Dionne Figgins, Rhett George, John Jellison, Sydney Morton, Vivian Nixon, John Eric Parker, Jermaine R. Rembert, LaQuet Sharnell, Ephraim Sykes, Cary Tedder, Danny Tidwell, Daniel J. Watts, Katie Webber, Charlie Williams and Dan’yelle Williamson.
Christopher Ashley (Xanadu) directs the Joe DiPietro written (I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change, The Toxic Avenger) and David Bryan scored musical (The Toxic Avenger) with choreography by Sergio Trujillo (Next to Normal, Jersey Boys), scenic design by David Gallo, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley and sound design by Ken Travis.
Previews begin Sept 23 and the show officially opens on Oct 19.