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Scott's Theatre Beat: A Look Before The Leap

Spring 2012

A Look before the Leap

     Leap of Faith is a slam bang, rollicking good musical about a con man/faith healer and what happens to him in a small town in Kansas. The town has been suffering through a drought for several years and the people are in very difficult circumstances.  Since it will take three days for the parts needed to repair the bus to arrive, the con man Jonas Nightingale, decides to setup the show and make some money for the days they are waiting.  The town sheriff Marla McGowan is on to the scam and steps in to put a stop to it.  What happens in those three days is a miracle for everyone involved.

     Raul Esparza is superb in the role of Jonas Nightingale a faith healing con artist running from a string of lawsuits, bill collectors, and arrest warrants.  His sister Sam, beautifully played by Kendra Kassebaum, is his business partner and behind the scenes force that supports the out-front performance of Jonas as he preys on peoples need to believe in something bigger than themselves.  Jonas supplies the "spiritual” support while getting the people to give up their hard earned money.

     Jessica Phillips does a terrific job as the sheriff who while working to protect the people of the town from people like Jonas finds herself romantically attracted to him.   It also turns out that her young son Jake (Talon Ackerman) is in a wheelchair as the result of a car accident that killed his father. There is no organic reason for his paralysis but no one has been able to help him.  He sees Jonas as the one who will help him walk again.

    The supporting cast does a great job with the production numbers that are high-energy, old school, gospel choir, foot stomping routines that shake up the house.  Sergio Trujillo's choreography is solid and well designed and the corps of dancers deliver it to perfection.

     The book by Janus Cercone and Warren Leight is based on a 1992 film of the same name that starred Steve Martin and Debra Winger.  Alan Menken did the lyrics with music by Glenn Slater.  The set design by Robin Wagner is ingenious with the setting up of the revival tent on stage as the center piece.  Don Holder’s lighting works to convey the shifts in mood and setting without interrupting the flow of the story.  The costumes by William Ivey Long are very well done providing a beautiful contrast between the flash of the revival show with the mundane of the every-day. 

©  2012  Scott L. Bennett, Jr.

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