The musical "Leap of Faith," which had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in 2010, opened on Broadway Thursday night at New York's St. James Theater. The play is based on the 1992 film starring Steve Martin about a con man-preacher preying on a cash-strapped Kansas town. The con man eventually sees the light, thanks to the love of a good woman.
The Los Angeles production, with Brooke Shields and Raúl Esparza as the leads, was "erratic and somewhat overeager," Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote. Though he judged the score "derivative," he did not consider the musical without promise. “It’s easy to see why the creators have persisted for so long with this project: There’s something uniquely compelling in the source material,” he wrote.
The show has since been overhauled for Broadway, and Shields has been replaced by Jessica Phillips as a sheriff (not a waitress, like the film and Los Angeles production) raising her handicapped son. The creative team includes Oscar and Grammy winner Alan Menken, who composed the score with frequent lyricist Glenn Slater.
The first reviews from New York are in, and the musical has not made critics into believers.
Ben Brantley of the New York Times wrote the show "is this season’s black hole of musical comedy, sucking the energy out of anyone who gets near it." He added that the "the force isn’t with" the "unfortunate cast" and while the production "has a fair amount of leaping," the "faith part is another matter."