Raul Esparza rumored for lead in 'Leap of Faith' musical
Casting for the long-in-the-works musical "Leap of Faith" hasn't been officially announced, but rumors are circulating that four-time Tony nominee Raul Esparza will take the lead role when the show has its world premiere this September at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.
Esparza -- who received his Tony nods for "Speed-the-Plow," "The Homecoming," "Company" and "Taboo" -- has been associated with "Leap of Faith" since he starred in a recent workshop production of the musical in New York.
The actor performed the role of a fraudulent faith healer that was played by Steve Martin in the original 1992 feature film.
A report that ran Monday in Playbill.com quoted director Rob Ashford saying that Esparza will take the lead role and that rehearsals for "Leap of Faith" will begin at the end of July.
Center Theatre Group was still keeping mum about casting on Tuesday. "All I can tell you is that it is not confirmed at all," said a spokeswoman for the company. "Nothing is set for casting for the show."
The spokeswoman said rehearsal details for the show are still in the works.
If Esparza is cast, it would give "Leap of Faith" a marquee name that could help it land a berth on Broadway. Michael Ritchie, the artistic director of the CTG, said the musical has Broadway potential but that nothing official has been confirmed.
Ritchie was in attendance at the New York workshop production featuring Esparza, as were other company leaders.
"Leap of Faith" has a score by Oscar-winning songwriter and composer Alan Menken. The musical features a book written by Janus Cercone, who penned the original screenplay. Glenn Slater wrote the lyrics.
The musical has had a long and complicated road to development. At one point, Taylor Hackford was reported to be on board to direct, but he has since left the production.
-- David Ng
Photo: Raul Esparza in "Company." Credit: Joseph Sinnott / PBS