The story of a traveling evangelist/flim-flam man, Reverend Jonas Nightengale (Raul Esparza) who, along with his sister/sidekick, Sam (Kendra Kassebaum), makes a stop in a small mid-western town. There, he is challenged in everything he believes in by Marva (Brooke Shields), a waitress and struggling single mother.
The Stars: Raul Esparza, Brooke Shields,
Kendra Kassebaum and Jarrod Emick
The show is written by Janus Cercone, who wrote the screenplay, and Glenn Slater, who also contributes lyrics to Alan Menken's (Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors) score. Menken and Slater last collaborated on The Little Mermaid.
The Writers: Alan Menken and Glenn Slater
The potent combination of religion vs ethics, the poor looking for something to believe in again, and a villain who undergoes a metamorphosis really appeals to me. I am hoping that that the show will have several strong themes and won't be afraid to address them, rather than sugar-coat the issues.
Headlined by Esparza (Company, Taboo), Shields (Grease!, Cabaret, Wonderful Town) and Kassebaum (Wicked), the show co-stars Jarrod Emick (Tony-winner, Damn Yankees, The Boy from Oz), Kecia Lewis-Evans (The Drowsy Chaperone), Nicholas Barasch (West Side Story) and newcomer Leslie Odom, Jr.
The ensemble is also full of Broadway veterans and newcomers: Brad Anderson (A Chorus Line), Bradley Benjamin, Tom Berklund (Broadway Bares 19.0), Christopher Bones, Krystal Joy Brown, Ta'Rea Campbell (The Lion King), Eric L. Christian (Cry-Baby, South Pacific), Michelle Duffy, Harvey Evans (Anyone Can Whistle, Sunset Boulevard) , Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Jennie Ford (All Shook Up, Dance of the Vampires), Bob Gaynor (Taboo, AIDA), Angela Grovey, Shannon Lewis (Fosse, Curtains), Michael X. Martin (Curtains, Ragtime), Maurice Murphy (Spelling Bee), Anise E. Ritchie, Darcie Roberts (Curtains, AIDA), Bryce Ryness (Hair, Legally Blonde), Ariel Shepley, C.E. Smith (The Full Monty), Alex Michael Stoll, Dennis Stowe (Shrek, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Katherine Tokarz (Rock of Ages, White Christmas), Brandon Wardell (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Assassins), Karl Warden, Natalie Willes (Saturday Night Fever) and Charlie Williams (Broadway Bares 20, Memphis).
Considering the pedigree of the creative staff - the show will be directed and choreographed by Promises, Promises' Rob Ashford - and the top notch cast, this seems to really be pushing for Broadway. Let's hope it goes the way of Hairspray, and not the way of The First Wives Club!
The world premiere will run at L.A.'s Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre, September 11 - October 24, with opening night scheduled for October 3.
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