The story was sweet and fun, if wholly as predictable as any about a con man with a soft spot. The music was scored by Alan Menken, most famous for his Disney scores, and the lyrics contribute an upbeat gospel sensibility to the sometimes troubling events onstage. Esparza is incredibly magnetic, and during a flubbed verse that occurred at my showing, he managed to ask the conductor to go back and start over, winning over the crowd with, "It's previews folks, look what you paid for," and later, "Wow, déjà vu!" His scenes with the young Barasch are particularly winning, and the kid has an excellent singing voice (until puberty hits). Shields excelled in her more tense scenes, but her vocal range did not do much justice to the music. The supporting performances of Kassebaum, as well as Kecia Lewis-Evans and Krystal Joy Brown, brought much more impressive musicality.
|Leap of Faith, running until 10/24 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles|