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Leap of Faith


Musical in 2 acts: Music - Alan Menken; Lyrics - Glenn Slater; Book - Janus Cercone, Glenn Slater, Based on the 1992 film Leap of Faith

Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles. Previews commenced on September 11 - 2 October (season)
St. James Theatre, Broadway - 3rd April - 13 May, 2012 (24 previews, 20 perfs)


A con artist, the Reverend Jonas Nightingale, travels with his ministry, but his bus breaks down in a small Kansas town. The some-time reverend pitches a tent and invites the townspeople to a revival. However, the sheriff, a woman named Marla McGowan, is determined to stop Jonas from taking the people's money. Jonas is challenged when he becomes romantically involved with the sheriff. Her love forces the cynical Reverend to come to terms with his life.


Act I

The curtain opens on a Broadway theatre in New York City. It has been transformed into the site of a three-night tent revival. The choir and preachers appear. Jonas Nightingale, a charismatic pastor, steps forward to greet the audience. As Jonas begins prophesying, we are taken to a dusty Kansas plain.

Zak, a crew member, pushes himself out from under a bus sitting at an Arco station. The crew's transmission has been shot and it has been revealed that the traveling cons owe thousands of dollars to various towns they have visited in the past; crew members are not being paid and Jonas' checks are bouncing left and right. It becomes clear that Jonas has swindled hundreds of innocent Christians out of money over the years. Eventually, Jonas convinces his number two, Sam, to set-up in Sweetwater; a Midwest town suffering from the drought that may be looking for a miracle.

The tent is now being put up as Jonas prepares for his last chance at a major payday. Marla McGowan, Sweetwater's buttoned-down Town Alderperson, comes across Jonas and his crew. She inquires further and voices her scepticism as Sam and Jonas insist that they can perform miracles. Suddenly, Marla reveals that she is the County Sheriff. After grilling the duo, Marla informs them that the tent revival team has three days to fix their bus and leave town.

Marla departs and Jonas' crew gets to work, passing out flyers and approaching the locals. As time goes by, the 'angels' begin to canvas the town and collect stories, secrets, and other gossip to use in the tent revival.

Later that evening, the first night of the tent revival; Zak introduces Jonas in a dramatically theatrical fashion, and the con man begins his sermon. Through a Bluetooth device, with Sam on the other end feeding information, Jonas begins to 'heal' the crowd and pass out offering baskets. In the midst of his healing, however, a young crippled boy - begging to be blessed - calls out to Jonas. Out of fear, he skips the child and moves to an elderly woman, inexplicably performing a miraculous act on the woman.

We shift to backstage to find Ida Mae collecting the cash from the evening's service. Isaiah, Ida Mae's son, appears unexpectedly; he is on break from Bible College. When Isaiah reminds one of the helpers of his father, he and his mother reminisce about the man who is no longer with them. The conversation makes Ida Mae stop and reflect on her life and how she has made a living as a liar. Elsewhere, we see Jake with his mother, Sheriff McGowan, telling her about the tent revival - he is hurt to find that she is trying to push him out of town.

Later, outside his motel room, Jonas is taking sips from his flask. Marla approaches to confront the con man. She hands him a thousand dollar fine and threatens to issue a second summons if he continues his act. Marla then reveals to Jonas that the crippled child is her son, Jake. Jonas uses it as an opportunity to flirt with Marla, much to her shock and dismay; the two begin sipping the flask together. Marla is eagerly challenging Jonas on both his manhood and his level of tolerance when, in an impulsive moment, the two kiss passionately and Marla pulls Jonas into the motel room.

Just as the door closes, Jake arrives to address the audience about his belief in God and how miracles can be like magic tricks. Eventually, Jake runs into Jonas outside of the motel room and the two bond as Marla secretly looks on. When Jake departs, Marla and Jonas share one final tender moment before Sam arrives. When Sam realizes Jonas has slept with the Sheriff, however, she expresses concern for involving emotions with the con act.

Later, on Night Two of the tent revival, Sam is prepping the team. Isaiah, who has overheard Sam's speech, has become tired of the hypocrisy and deception. We transition to the climax of the Second Revival, as Jonas is concluding his sermon. When audience members begin to yell out for prayers, Sam attempts to direct Jonas to Jake; Jonas refuses. Eventually, it is too much for Jonas to ignore...but Marla stops him and stands up to expose Jonas, and his crew, for what they really are. Seeing an advantageous opportunity, Jonas quells the gasps and uses the 'truth' as a false story of redemption.

Beginning to sway the audience back on his side, Marla tries to regain control. When Sam forces Jonas to heal Jake, however, the young boy falls on his face in front of the audience; all are riveted and shocked. Marla has reached her boiling point and promptly arrests Jonas. As the Deputy drags the con man from the tent, he makes one final promise: if the tent is filled on the final night, there will be an astonishing miracle for the entire town!

Act II

We find Jonas confined to a simple jail cell. Outside on the street, the townspeople hold a vigil. Jake, who insists that he is okay, brings toast to Jonas. When Marla arrives, she informs Jonas that the citizens of the town have put up his bail. Despite the rift, Jonas tries to find out more about Marla's past and her bitterness.

Now, at the tent, the crew prepares for its final revival. With everything that has occurred over the last 24 hours, many of the Angels question their commitment to the con. Ornella and Zak try to motivate the crew, while others question Jonas' act. Throughout the preparations, opposition is intensifying; Jonas is confronted by Sam, Isaiah, and his Angels. But because of his stubborn ways, the con man ignores the warnings. Isaiah, who can take more, rushes to Marla at the Sheriff's office. He possesses the company books, which show proof of embezzlement and tax fraud. In haste, Isaiah agrees to hand over the records as long as everyone except Jonas walks free -- Marla agrees and a deal is struck.

Meanwhile, at the tent, Jonas sits alone; staring at the stage. Jake comes in and Jonas insists that he stay at home for the final night but Jake refuses as he continues believe that a miracle might happen. Finally, Jonas screams at Jake and strides away. Marla is waiting for him who now reveals that she has been given confidential information about his operations and plans to use it against them to shut the tent revival down. With Jonas storming off upon hearing the news, Sam tries to reason with Marla and help her understand who Jonas is.

The final night of service is now in full swing. As Jonas begins his healing, the crowd goes wild - stuffing money in basket after basket. Commotion ensues when Jake finally wheels himself over to Jonas; the crowd quiets down. Seeing this, Marla enters and surprises Jonas when she too demands 'one final miracle'. After a moment of healing, Jake attempts to take a step...but falls. The audience gasps. An unfazed Jake cries out for Jonas to begin praying for him, and the crowd joins in. Slowly, step by step, Jake walks. He eventually falls into Jonas' arms and all celebrate; Jonas is frozen by shock as he processes what has happened.

The next day - Sunrise, We find Jonas' crew packing up equipment at the Arco station. Sam takes roll and notices that Jonas is unaccounted for. Isaiah was the last to see him, as he went walking off into the fields. Suddenly, Jonas appears. Much to Sam's dismay, Jonas informs her that he is not leaving. He will step down and allow Isaiah to take over. Ida Mae and the others overhear this, and come over to say their goodbyes. As the bus finishes loading up, Jonas stands outside; Marla and Jake arrive. Jonas reveals that he has given a portion of their earnings to Jake's mom, and Marla offers Jonas a new life in Sweetwater, Kansas. The two passionately embrace and the skies open up. As the curtain falls, rain pours down and Jake, Jonas, and Marla stand in wonderment about all that has happened.

Musical numbers

Act I

  1. Rise Up — Ida Mae, Ornella, Isaiah, Jonas, Sam & Angels of Mercy
  2. Fox in the Henhouse — Marla & Jonas
  3. Fields of the Lord — Sam, Jonas & Angels of Mercy
  4. Step Into the Light — Ornella, Jonas, Ida Mae, Angels of Mercy & Townspeople
  5. Walking Like Daddy — Isaiah
  6. Lost — Ida Mae & Angels of Mercy
  7. I Can Read You — Marla & Jonas
  8. Like Magic — Jake & Jonas
  9. I Can Read You (Reprise) — Sam & Jonas
  10. Dancin' in the Devil's Shoes — Isaiah, Ornella, Ida Mae & Angels of Mercy
  11. King of Sin — Jonas
  12. Dancin' in the Devil's Shoes (Reprise) — Isaiah, Ornella, Idae Mae, Angels of Mercy & Townspeople

Act II

  1. Rise Up (Reprise) — Angels of Mercy & Townspeople
  2. Long Past Dreamin' — Marla & Jonas
  3. Are You on the Bus? — Ornella, Sam, Ida Mae, Isaiah & Jonas
  4. Like Magic (Reprise) — Jake & Jonas
  5. People Like Us — Sam & Marla
  6. Last Chance Salvation — Jonas, Angels of Mercy & Townspeople
  7. If Your Faith Is Strong Enough — Jonas, Angels of Mercy & Townspeople
  8. Jonas's Soliloquy — Jonas
  9. Leap of Faith — Company


ENSEMBLE: - Angels, Townsfolk, Choir