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Scandalous ;The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.
In a season when as many as three or four shows can open on the same night, plus re-scheduling due to lost rehearsals caused by Sandy, my dates to see Scandalous got shifted three times. When I finally settled on the day before the official opening, the performance had to be cancelled so Carmello could have some vocal rest. No wonder! The gutsy, committed actress is on stage for practically the entire two and a half hours, and all but two of the songs.
(Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)
Since there was no missing the scuttlebutt about the almost universal thumbs down reception for all involved parties except Carolee Carmello, I hoped that I could disagree with all those negative nabobs of negativism and find lots of good things to say about Scandalous and confidently predict a long Broadway run. But alas and alack, I'm afraid this latest attempt to bring Evengalical preaching out of the church church and onto a Broadway stage will soon be as forgotten as Spiro Agnew, the vice-resident who was briefly famous for that triple N phrase.
As the terrific Raoul Esparza couldn't sae the limited appeal Leap of Faith from sinking into oblivion, neither can Carolee Carmello make the bio-musical abou Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) Broadway worthy. Carmello deserves a starring role but her talents and beautiful voice are wasted on this flat-footed vehicle.
Actually McPherson who was a genuine media star could be an interesting subject for either a play or musical. But not with a book and lyrics by Cathie Lee Gifford who has nurtured a long-time fascination with McPherson, but lacks the skill to tell her story engagingly and with a semblance of originality. The lyrics are no better, neer rising above greeting card pedestrianism. As Curtainup regulars know, we usually begin our reviews with a pertinent quote from the fialogue, or in case of a musical, from a song. Somehow, I can't offer a single line that warrants this spotlight position.
While Carmello is supported by seasoned professionals like George Hearn, Candy Buckley and Roz Ryan, Gifford's book gets no lift from her composer, choreographer director. All are unknowns and not worth getting to know better. The sets, by Walt Spangler are another waste of talent and money. (He does much better and more fun work in the just opened A Christmas Story).
The producers too know more about church organization than the risky world of show biz. The primary sponsoring Evangelical happens to be the Foursquare Foundation, which was founded by McPherson. Though they apparently didn't get involved with the show's contents they're nevertheless part of the finale. A new form of product placement!
Rather than bore you with a lot of details about the plot, I'll stop here and repeat my advice pertaining to the justly short-lived The Performers: Save you money for when Carmello and the other actors land in another and more worth the high cost of a Broadway ticket. .
Scandalous ;The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.|
Book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford
Music by David Pomeranz and David Friedman
Cast: Carolee Carmello (Aimee Semple McPherson,, George Hearn (James Kennedy/ Brother Bob),
Candy Buckley ( Aimee's mother, Minnie) , Edward Watts (Robert Semple/ David Hutton), Roz Ryan ( Emma Jo Schaeffer), Andrew Samonsky (Harold McPherson/ Kenneth Ormiston); ensemble: Nick Cartell, Joseph Dellger, Erica Dorfler, Carlos L. Encinias, Hannah Florence, Corey Greenan, Benjamin Howes, Karen Hyland, Alison Luff, Jesse Nager, Sam Strasfeld, Betsy Struxness, Elizabeth Ward Land, Billie Wildrick, Dan'yelle Williamson and Matt Wolfe.
Choreography by Lorin Latarro
Musical direction by Joel Fram
Scenic design: Walt Spangler
Costume design: Gregory A. Poplyk
Lighting design: Natasha Katz
Sound design: Ken Travis
Orchestrations: Bruce Coughlin
Running Time: 2/1/2 hours with one intermission
Neil Simon Theatre 250 W. 52nd St.
From 10/13/12; opening 11/15/12
Tuesday at 7 p.m. Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Thursday at 7 p.m. Friday at 8 p.m.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer
For Such a Tume As This /Aimee and Ensemble
Stand Up /Aimee and Ensemble
Minnie's Prayer /Minnie
Why Can't I?/ Aimee
He Will Be My Home /Robert and Aimee
Come Whatever May /Robert and Aimee
He Will Be My Home (Reprise) /Robert, Aimee, James and Minnie
That Sweet Lassie From Cork /Ensemble
Come Whatever May (Reprise) /Robert, Aimee and Ensemble
How Could You? /Aimee
You Have a Fire /Aimee and James
Minnie's Prayer (Reprise) /Minnie
Follow Me (Part 1) /Aimee and Ensemble
A Girl's Gotta Do What a Girl's Gotta Do / Emma Jo and Girls
Follow Me (Part 2) /Aimee and Ensemble
Hollywood Aimee /Reporters
Adam and Eve / Aimee, David and Eve
Foursquare March /Aimee and Ensemble
Samson and Delilha /Aimee, David and Ensemble
Hollywood Aimee (Reprise) /Reporters
Moses and Pharaoh /Aimee, David, Emma Jo and Ensemble
Demon in a Dress /Brother Bob and Ensemble
It's Just You /Kenneth and David
The Coconut Grove /The Lovely Coconuts, Louella and Reporters
No Other Choice /Minnie
Hollywood Aimee (Reprise) /Ensemble
Lost or Found? /Aimee, Asa and Ensemble
What Does It Profit? /Aimee
I Have a Fire /Aimee and Ensemble
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