‘Faith’ leaps to Broadway

'On a Clear Day' finalizes closing date

In a Broadway shakeup, the tuner adaptation of “Leap of Faith” has leapt into a vacancy created by struggling revival “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” now set to close Jan. 29.

Raul Esparza, who toplined the world preem of “Leap” in L.A. in 2010, returns to lead the cast of the Gotham incarnation. Creative team includes new additions Warren Leight (“Side Man”), now co-writing the book, as well as helmer Christopher Ashley and choreographer Sergio Trujillo (“Jersey Boys”).

The jump for “Leap” rejiggers the Rialto’s spring sked, adding to the roster one more new tuner — in a production that had previously been aiming to land on Broadway in the fall.

Rumors about the shift had been circulating for a few weeks now, as it became apparent that Harry Connick Jr. starrer “On a Clear Day,” which opened to largely unfavorable reviews, wouldn’t last, leaving one of the Street’s prime musical houses, the St. James Theater, open for a show that could mobilize quickly.

“Leap” was already gearing up for a run at Broadway, having announced a fall target date and a new cadre of collaborators in the wake of the unenthusiastically received Ahmanson Theater run. Ashley replaced Rob Ashford (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”) as helmer, and Leight came aboard to work on scribe Janus Cercone’s original book.

Producers of “Leap” pushed for “Clear Day” to announce its closing sooner rather than later so that final funds for “Leap” could be locked in and details ironed out in advance of performances starting in early April.

Confirmation of “Leap” means the show’s composer, Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid”), is poised to have three shows running at once on the Main Stem, with “Leap” joining the current “Sister Act” and “Newsies,” opening in April. Glenn Slater, who worked with Menken on “Sister Act,” writes the lyrics for “Leap.”

Book writer Cercone also penned the 1992 film, toplined by Steve Martin, on which the musical is based. Storyline follows a charlatan reverend (Esparza) and the female sheriff, to be played by Jessica Phillips, who vows to shut him down.

Kendra Kassebaum also will appear in the Gotham incarnation of “Leap,” with further casting still to be announced.

When it shutters Jan. 29, “On a Clear Day,” which opened Dec. 11, will have played 29 previews and 57 regular perfs. The redux of the 1965 Lerner and Lane musical, conceived and directed by Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening”), pulls a gender switch on the show’s reincarnation-themed storyline.

Despite the presence of Connick — whose prior stint on the Rialto, “The Pajama Game,” proved a hit — the production didn’t catch on with auds. Last week the tuner pulled in about $585,000 and played to less than 70% of capacity.

Producers of “Clear Day” include Tom Hulce, Ira Pittelman, Liza Lerner and Broadway Across America, among others.

Although previews for “Leap” have been set to begin April 3, an exact opening date remains to be announced. Cutoff for Tony eligibility is April 26.

Producing team of “Leap” includes Michael Mannheim (also a producer on the film), James D. Stern, Douglas L. Meyer, Tom Viertel, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, Steven Baruch and Jujamcyn Theaters, among others.

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