Raúl Esparza leaves his blood, sweat and tears in Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s musical Leap of Faith: emphasis on the blood. As Jonas Nightingale, the four-time Tony Award nominee wears some dazzling costumes, none more deliciously gaudy as the hand-crafted “mirror jacket” he dons in the first act. It may be beautiful, but Esparza revealed to Broadway.com that working the jacket requires some tough skin.
"That thing weighs 20 pounds," said Esparza of the piece created by five-time Tony Award-winning costume designer William Ivey Long. The jacket is comprised of 4,000 small plexi-glass squares. "It’s made of mirrors," Esparza explained. "It cuts. I actually have some blood on me. Yep! That’s what I do for theater."
Despite the sharp edges, Esparza notes that the jacket is a stunning work of art. "It’s going to go into a museum somewhere. William [Ivey Long] is crazy," said Esparza. He added with a wink: "I am going to wear that on the street or the club. We are so going to get in, too!"
Based on the 1992 film of the same name, Leap of Faith follows full-time con artist Jonas Nightingale (Esparza) as his traveling ministry breaks down in a small Kansas town. He quickly pitches a tent and invites the locals to a revival. The town sheriff, Marla Humes (played by Jessica Phillips), is determined to stop him from separating the townspeople from their money.
Leap of Faith begins previews on April 3 at the St. James Theatre and opens on April 26.