Monday, May 2, 2016

A Likeable Leap of Faith

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Are you born-again? Do you love stories of the lost and sinful coming to redemption? If so, Leap of Faith, the current show at the New Century Theater, is definitely right for you.

Leap of Faith is a musical that follows Jonas, a crooked revival tent preacher, and his sister Sam as they become stuck (in every definition of that term) in Sweetwater, Kansas. With the help of their chorus of "angels," Jonas and Sam intend to swindle the townspeople out of as much money as possible until they can get their vehicles back on the road. The only problem is that the local sheriff, Marla, is on to their scheme from the get-go. The story follows many ups and downs in the tensions between groups, particularly Jonas and Marla, until they reconcile at the end and both Sweetwater and the revivalists leave better than they started.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
The cast is culled from a selection of the Minneapolis Musical Theatre troupe, and from the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir. They lend an authentic, down-home characterization to their roles right down to the extras. They also showcase a range of abilities and make the revival setting feel like it really is in Kansas.

Cast standouts included Jill Iverson, the vocal star of the show as Jonas' sister Sam. I wish Iverson had more solos- maybe in future runs? Brandon Jackson brings an R&B feel to his role of Isaiah, the son of choir leader Ida Mae (played with spirit by Sonya Nolen-Moon). As the protagonists, Matt Tatone (Jonas) and Emily Jansen (Marla) have hard-earned chemistry. They seem to have a genuine feeling for each other, and it shows in their scenes.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
I will say that this show is not for everyone. If you're not attracted by overtly religious scenes you may feel a little uncomfortable with some of the content. On the other hand, if you like to see characters grow for the better, overcome obstacles or find love in unexpected places, you will probably enjoy this. Also of note: the cast is occasionally a little overzealous with their vocals. For this show simple is best - it would be nice to leave some of the more Christina Aguilara moments at home.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Leap of Faith is a nice way to mix more community into performances through the Hennepin Theatre Trust. It's sure to be a popular piece with our expansive evangelical community and runs through May 22 at the New Century Theater. For more information or to buy tickets, click on this link.