Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson

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The Musical
The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.jpg
Broadway Playbill
MusicDavid Pomeranz
David Friedman
LyricsKathie Lee Gifford
BookKathie Lee Gifford
BasisThe life of Aimee Semple McPherson
Productions2005 White Plains, New York
2007 Arlington, Virginia
2011 Seattle, Washington
2012 Broadway

Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson is a musical with a book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford and music by David Pomeranz and David Friedman. The musical has had productions in 2005 at the White Plains, New York Performing Arts Center, at the Signature Theatre in 2007, in 2011 at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle and in 2012 on Broadway. The musical is based on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson.


The musical relates events in the life of early 20th century evangelist and pop culture icon Aimee Semple McPherson. It follows her life and career from her childhood to her controversial death in 1944, focusing on her mysterious kidnapping and the ensuing trial. Other highlights include her becoming the first woman to obtain a radio broadcast license in the United States, her cross-country drive unaccompanied by a man, her multimedia empire that included several newspapers, and her interactions with such contemporaries as Charles Chaplin and William Randolph Hearst.


Saving Aimee debuted at the White Plains Performing Arts Center in October 2005. The cast featured Carolee Carmello as Aimee and Florence Lacey.[1] A revised production, directed by Eric Schaeffer and choreographed by Christopher d'Amboise, opened on April 10, 2007 at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia for a limited run, with Carolee Carmello again in the title role.[2]

Four years later, the musical played at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington, from September 30 to October 29, 2011.[3] It was directed by David Armstrong, artistic director at 5th Avenue, with choreography by Lorin Laterro, sets by Walt Spangler and costumes by Gregory A. Poplyk. Carmello again played Aimee, with Judy Kaye as Minnie Kennedy, Roz Ryan as Emma Jo Schaffer and Ed Dixon.[4]

The musical premiered on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre, with previews starting on October 13, 2012, and opening officially on November 15, 2012.[5] Carmello stars, with George Hearn playing both Aimee's father James Kennedy and a preacher Brother Bob. Ed Watts plays Aimee's husband, and Roz Ryan is again Emma Jo.[6] Direction and choreography are again by Armstrong and Latarro, sets and costumes are again by Spangler and Poplyk, and lighting is by Natasha Katz. The new title of the musical is Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.[7] The producers include Foursquare Foundation and Dick DeVos, which The New York Times noted are "unusual newcomers", as Foursquare Foundation "provides grants to evangelical churches and ministries."[8]

Scandalous closed on December 9, 2012 after 29 regular performances and 31 previews. Difficulties arising from Hurricane Sandy were cited as a contributing factor to the closing.[9]

Carolee Carmello was nominated for a 2013 Tony Award in the category of Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role in A Musical[10] and for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Musical.[11] The cast recording was released in 2013.

Musical Numbers[edit]

The musical numbers from the 2012 Broadway production are as follows:

The musical numbers from the 2011 Seattle production are as follows:

The musical numbers from the 2007 Virginia production are as follows:

Songs cut from earlier versions of the production:

  • "The Silent, Sorrowful Shadows" - Aimee
  • "God Will Provide" - Emma Jo
  • "Emma Jo's Lament" - Emma Jo
  • "A Letter From Home" - James
  • "Demon in a Dress" - Brother Bob
  • "Saving Aimee" - Minnie

Critical reception[edit]

In its review of the Signature Theatre production, Variety wrote: "All is contained in Gifford's exceedingly thorough book, ripping nonstop from one crisis to another under Schaeffer's free-flowing direction. Pomeranz and Friedman break up the action with an enjoyable blend of tunes that opens with the spirited "Stand Up!"; highlights include an Irish jig, a rousing spiritual, some big ensemble numbers, and Aimee's signature tune, "Why Can't I Just Be a Woman?" "[2] The theatremania reviewer of the same production wrote that the musical is a "rousing experience, thanks to a group of tour-de-force performances, especially from ... Carmello in the title role, and songs ... that add layers of emotional shading missing from the dialogue played out between them. Director Eric Schaeffer's deft hand maximizes the show's strengths, fusing performers, songs, and story into an entertaining blend."[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gans, Andrew and Jones, Kenneth. Evita's Lacey to Join Carmello for Saving Aimee Musical; Complete Cast Announced",, September 20, 2005
  2. ^ a b Harris, Paul. " Saving Aimee review" Variety, April 24, 2007
  3. ^ "Seattle Theatre - 5th Avenue",
  4. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "'Saving Aimee', Starring Tony Nominee Carolee Carmello, Opens in Seattle Oct. 20",, October 20, 2011
  5. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "'Scandalous', the Pop Musical About a Religious Superstar, Opens on Broadway; Carolee Carmello Stars", November 15, 2012
  6. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Scandalous Will Star George Hearn In Two Opposing Roles: Father and Enemy of Aimee Semple McPherson", Playbill, August 2, 2012
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Sing Out, Sister! Scandalous, the Aimee Semple McPherson Musical Starring Carolee Carmello, Will Play Broadway",, July 19, 2012
  8. ^ Healy, Patrick. "'Scandalous,' Musical About Aimee Semple McPherson, Sets Broadway Opening", The New York Times, July 19, 2012
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "'Scandalous', the Pop Musical About a Religious Superstar, Closes Dec. 9", December 9, 2012
  10. ^ "Tony Award Nominees 2013"., retrieved May 1, 2013
  11. ^ Gans, Andrew. "58th Annual Drama Desk Awards Presented May 19 in NYC", May 19, 2013
  12. ^ Toscano, Michael. "Saving Aimee review", April 24, 2007

External links[edit]