Entertainment :: Music

Leap of Faith - Original Broadway Cast Recording

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Tuesday Feb 12, 2013
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"Leap of Faith" began as a 1992 film starring Steve Martin as Jonas Nightingale, a modern-day travelling con artist/preacher, going from town to town "spreading the Word." Alan Menken decided that the film would make a moving stage musical, and he and lyricist Glenn Slater, with whom he had created the music for "Tangled," "Home on the Range," and the recent Broadway version of "Sister Act," put together a score of songs that strive to enhance the rural world of Sweetwater, Kansas, when the struggling drought-suffering town becomes the probable latest victims of Nightingale and his entourage.

Ghostlight Records has released the Broadway recording of "Leap of Faith," with Raul Esparza ("Company," television’s "Law and Order, SVU") as Nightingale, Jessica Phillips ("Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," "Next to Normal") as the town’s suspecting sheriff, Kendra Kassebaum ("Wicked") as Jonas’ sister, and Kecia Lewis-Evans ("The Drowsy Chaperone," "Shrek: The Musical") as Ida Mae, the leader of Jonas’ singing "Angels." The cast gives its best effort to inject emotion and caring into Menken and Slater’s songs, but the result comes across as forced and clichéd. The Broadway boards have been recently inundated with gospel-flavored musicals about enlightenment, faith, and salvation (see "Memphis" or the previously mentioned "Sister Act"), and "Leap of Faith" struggles to bring any new views and themes to this genre. There are the "performance songs" (including the opening number, "Rise Up," and "Step Into The Light"), the "I-know-what-you’re-up-to" songs ("Fox in the Henhouse," "I Can Read You"), and the "our-lives-were-tough" songs (including "Long Past Dreaming" and "People Like Us"), all of which are given noble attempts by the cast to help us "see the light," but ultimately leave us "un-saved" by this recording.

Menken is a great tunesmith. His scores to both "Newsies" and "Little Shop of Horrors," in addition to his animated hits, are among the best written songs for the stage and screen. Unfortunately, even Rodgers and Hammerstein had "Allegro," and now Menken and Slater have their "Leap of Faith." However, I’m sure they won’t fall very far.

"Leap of Faith - Original Broadway Cast Recording"
Alan Menken / Raul Esparza
CD and Digital formats
Ghostlight Records

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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