Why Did the Broadway Musical ‘Leap of Faith’ Fail So Quickly?

leap-of-faithBroadway is a tough business, with many shows taking years to recoup their initial costs and others never breaking even.  One from this season that is likely to fall into the latter category is Leap of Faith, which despite four Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical) is closing after being open for less than a month because of poor ticket sales.  Based on a more-or-less forgotten 1992 Steve Martin movie, the New York Times did an extensive write-up analyzing why the show failed and the perils of Broadway productions.

It’s rare that a Tony-nominated play closes before the Tony Awards since the production will not only won’t be able to reap the publicity that comes from the nominations but also won’t be able to be seen by the awards voters.  That didn’t make a difference for Leap of Faith, which according to the Times was losing about $275,000 per week as a result of bad tickets sales that were blamed on awful reviews. 

Still, a number of high-grossing musicals do well despite negative reviews, so what was particularly wrong with Leap of Faith?

The Times argues that Leap failed on three important levels that help bolster the box office of a less-than-stellar show: it didn’t have the familiar subject matter (the 1992 movie certainly doesn’t top anyone’s “must see” list), it didn’t feature a major star (the lead actor, Raúl Esparza, is certainly popular, but not among the Broadway stratosphere), and it doesn’t have a “jukebox” selection of popular songs for a soundtrack. 

Leap of Faith also bumped up its premiere date from fall 2012 because of the failure of the previous tenant of the St. James Theatre, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, with producers concerned that if they waited the St. James Theatre would’ve booked another show that would leave Leap‘s premiere date in limbo.  Perhaps with more time to hone the show the producers could have created a more successful product, but the quick turnaround of Broadway took that option off the table.

Nonetheless, the failure of Leap of Faith is not out of the ordinary since every Broadway season brings both hits and misses.  Some of the producers of Leap of Faith, including Thomas Viertel, Richard Frankel, and Steven Brauch, have previously produced the Broadway mega-hits Hairspray and The Producers, so it’s not like the producers lacked Broadway experience.  But the business of Broadway being what it is, it’s no surprise that even a few negative associations with a show can totally derail it no matter how many awards it gets nominated for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-matt-dillon-and-carla.jpg
Interview: Matt Dillon and Carla Gugino Talk ‘Wayward Pines’
FOX has a new limited-series that’s got a terrific cast and interesting premise. It’s called Wayward Pines and stars Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, Toby Jones, Terrance Howard, Juliette Lewis, Tim Griffin and Shannyn Sossamon. The show, whose pilot was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is about a Secret Service agent (Dillon) goes to [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-wayward-pines-stars-ti.jpg
Interview: ‘Wayward Pines’ Stars Tim Griffin and Shannyn Sossamon on the Show, Their Characters and More!
Griffin and Sossamonwere at Comic-Con where they sat in on some roundtable interviews to talk about the show.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-m-night-shyamalan-talk.jpg
Interview: M. Night Shyamalan Talks ‘Wayward Pines’ and Why He Expanded a Young Actors Role on the Show
I talked to Shyamalan at Comic-Con in a roundtable interview where he talked about the cast, what he learned from working in TV and how young actor Charlie Tahan started out with a small part but as the story grew, so did his role.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-wayward-pines-producer.jpg
Interview: ‘Wayward Pines’ Producers and Writer Talk Casting and the 10-Episode Format
FOX’s upcoming limited series Wayward Pines looks very cool. The show is supposed to be very Twin Peaks-ish in tone which, just hearing that, definitely sparks my interest. The pilot was directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, Toby Jones, Terrance Howard and Juliette Lewis and is about a [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-clark-gregg-on-agents.jpg
Interview: Clark Gregg on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ and Only Needing to Know as Much as His Character in “Any Given Scene” (video)
When asked if he likes to know in advance what's going to happen to his character, he said that he "can't act it as well if he knows too much." He goes on to say that he "needs to know as much as Phil Coulson knows in any given scene."