Monday, November 12, 2012

"Scandalous The Musical: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson"

I knew nothing of Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) prior to reading about Kathie Lee Gifford's new Broadway musical Scandalous. After experiencing a recent preview, I now have a basic and linear understanding of McPherson's biography. However, while the admirable Carolee Carmello who stars as McPerson gave an all-out performance, I left the Neil Simon Theatre not really grasping what it was about the controversial Aimee Semple McPherson, her message or the times that allowed her - a woman - to attract a multitude of followers to standing room only tent revivals and later a 5,300 seat Los Angeles temple. But even worse for this theaterlover, I walked away from West 52nd Street, not really moved by the music - not a good thing after an evening of musical theater. 

But perhaps Ms. Gifford's effort is not a complete failure. After the somewhat boring first act, I overheard a woman rave about the show during intermission. Clearly, Scandalous was resonating with someone. And by the time I got home, I was still curious enough about McPherson to check out the Wikipedia about her. I was glad that it shed light on the boxing ring scene in the musical (must have zoned out during that part of the show because I had no idea why Carolee Carmello was bouncing around in a boxing ring). After Wikipedia, I turned to youtube to learn more about and observe the superstar evangelist and her controversial life. 

Kathie Lee Gifford, a born again Christian, has been working on Scandalous (formerly Saving Aimee) for some 13 years. While I do not think that her show will top anyone's list of great musicals, she does succeed at bringing widespread attention to the life of Aimee Semple McPherson. I still do not "get" McPherson's charisma (nor Gifford's for that matter), but I remain curious and will definitely perk up the next time I hear her name. Hmmm, I wonder if the Faye Dunaway/Bette Davis movie about her famous kidnapping is available at my local library. Let's sign out of Blogger and see if it is...

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