‘Scandalous’ Audience Reviews

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Carolee Carmello plays 20th-century evangelical superstar Aimee Semple McPherson in a new musical co-authored by Kathie Lee Gifford. Holiness collides with 1920s Hollywood in one remarkable woman's charismatic rise to fame amidst scandalous romances and controversy.




24 Responses to "‘Scandalous’ Audience Reviews"

  1. Rich says:

    Pretty hard to imagine her story being contained on a single live stage. Her own live stage, Angelus Temple in Los Angeles (which seats several thousand) was filled to capacity several times each week for over 20 years running to see her famous “illustrated sermons” – elaborate stage performance Christian ministry. If you’re curious about the life of Aimee Semple McPherson consider reading a very good, independent biography entitled “Sister Aimee”, by Daniel Epstein. In the age of only newpapers, wire services, early radio, and yellow journalism, Aimee was front page news for many years running. Her ministry as an evangelist, given the era she lived in, was as influential as almost anyone who could be named, except perhaps Billy Graham at his apex. In fact, Graham is quoted early in his career as saying that he considered her the most effective evangelist of the century to that point.

  2. Judith Godik says:

    Why is it leaving broadway ? Sandy superstore had an effect. This is not fair .

  3. Katie says:

    Carolee Carmello was absolutely fantastic. If you go for no other reason that to see her perform, it would still be worth it!

  4. Danny says:

    A few moments were a little hit or miss but Ms Carmello really gave a good push to the finish line and really made this production worth it to see. She was compelling and emotionally charged and made this a treat to watch.

  5. Gail says:

    It’s nice to see a Broadway show that really embraces the cheesy, fun qualities we all used to expect on Broadway. My family had such a fun time at this show. We’d definitely see it again given the choice.

  6. Christy says:

    I’m not a fan of the today show or KLG’s in general but she really knows how to write a musical! You can tell that she spent a lot of time putting everything together just in the way she wanted it in order to make it totally FABULOUS. I absolutely loved the production.

  7. Karen Treadlightly says:

    Well, this was one of Broadway’s more disappointing efforts and the cast was certainly not at fault. Carolee Carmello knows how to deliver a song and her singing was the most redeeming feature of what could best be described as a 1950’s Hollywood biopic wannabe. Frankly, I have never seen so many audience members leave at intermission.

    Historically I have only a nodding acquaintance with Aimee Semple Macpherson and now I know a bit more about her–but a quick check on Wikipedia revealed a bit of artistic license was taken with some of the facts. Nothing drastic but enough to make you wonder. If you really want to learn more about Aimee and her temptations check out the film “Elmer Gantry” starring Jean Simmons as the Aimee character (re-named Sharon as this was an acknowledged work of fiction) and Burt Lancaster as the man who brings out the devil in her. Delicious. Much more satisfying than watching very professional and capable Broadway actors wandering about the stage wishing they had a reason to sing. If you are coming to New York to see a Broadway show…almost anything else woud be better. Sorry.

  8. Allie says:

    As a triple threat myself, I really enjoyed seeing all the singing, dancing, and acting on stage last night. Okay so a few of them needed a little tutoring to catch up but it was still spectacular to see.

  9. craig says:

    i have no idea how this show could be given a bad review. Carolee is amazing! it is a true story of a woman who has virtually been written out of history. I can’t wait to read more about her. i loved the music and the comic relief was dievered at just the right time.

    Don’t miss this show!

  10. Barbara says:

    I saw this pathetic play this afternoon and was sitting behind Kathy Lee and her husband. I couldn’t find a good word to say to her about this high school play so I said nothing. Don’t waste your time and money on this disaster.

  11. Philip Clark says:

    Worst Broadway show I have ever seen…and I have seen A LOT! Really, really bad. Wanted desperately to leave at intermission but did not. Sort of like watching a car crash…you just can’t look away…sadly. Sorry Kathie Lee.

  12. Ashley says:

    My school gave me free tickets to this show and I was utterly shocked that this show made it to Broadway.
    I was absolutely disgusted at the elementary lyricism, choppy script, and disconnected acting performances.
    Please don’t waste your money on this when there is so much quality theatre out there!

  13. Nick says:

    I had never heard of Aimee before but she had such an interesting life!! I was annoyed at first that my wife took me to see some religious seeming show but we had a really great time in the end. Carolee is extremely talented and really carried the show.

  14. Lauren says:

    I’m not sure why this has gotten negative reviews. I absolutely LOVED it. Carolee Carmello really knocked it out of the park when it came to the vocals and acting. Sure, the musical is a little over the top but isn’t that what we love about Broadway?? Anyways, ignore what other people say and definitely go see the show!! You won’t regret it.

  15. Gene Sironen says:

    My wife and I went to see this show today and we were amazed at how good it was! Carolee Carmello is the strongest female force we’ve seen on Broadway since Betty Buckley did Sunset Blvd! The entire cast was superb as well! We feel this show to have a huge potential and we look forward to seeing how far it goes.

  16. Leslie says:

    Saw this on Weds Oct 24th. I don’t agree with the bad reviews at all, and the audience that day seemed to love it as much as my friend and I did. I don’t believe it was a perfunctory ovation at all, as the play ended. It is true there are a lot of songs and the play is long – I’m not sure which section I’d have them cut. But it is a bit long. I thought the music was powerful. No I didn’t leave there humming a tune, nor do I think the songs themselves will become iconic in any way. But I also saw the play Once on this trip, and though the music is better in that play, and is beautiful and haunting – I doubt anyone will be humming those tunes either.
    It is amazing when you realize that the story of Aimee Semple McPherson simply repeated itself in future years – and yet her story faded away with history. I thought the story was interesting, and of course it was presented rather empathetically. But it was interesting, and the play included drama, humor and yes – cheesy. But cheesy in a humorous way such that an audience can appreciate. The sets are very well done, and sometimes add to the humor of course. I thought parts of the production were touching and dramatic, I found the music powerful, and the humor delightful. I believe that what some are calling “trashy” were certain sets and specific dialogues that were purposeful in the production in order to make a point. A point about how Aimee lost her way for reasons that develop within the story. This too is the reason that the first and second act are dramatic in their differences, because in my mind it illustrates how far she strayed from her original mission.
    Most importantly, I’d say that Carolee Carmello may be one of the best broadway singers I’ve ever heard, and I’ve been to 30+ productions on Broadway. The rest of the cast is very good as well, especially Roz and the woman who plays Aimee’s mother.
    I did have trouble with “not knowing” what ever happened to Aimee’s children or what, if any, relationship she had with them. That seemed to be a bit of a gap in the story. I realize with how long the play is you can’t cover everything – but it left me wondering. Also, I have a dance background and can see that the dancing can clearly use tightening up. There were alot of mistakes among the ensemble cast.
    All this being said, I do not agree with the negative reviews on here. I admit that KLG’s star power comes in to play – it made me curious enough to attend. She was at the play the day we were there and that may have added to the energy of the audience. Its still in previews folks, and it appears that KLG is listening to feedback and making changes as she goes. I’d bet this play continues to be well attended and is on Broadway for quite awhile.

    • Allen says:

      I agree. I found it very motivational and so did they 5 people who attended with me. It was received well by the audience the night i attended.

    • Rich says:

      Sister Aimee’s daughter and son went on to have successful lives. She had close relationships with them. Roberta Star (Semple) Salter went on to live a quiet life in New York, married to a television executive. Rolf McPherson worked very closely with his mother at Angelus Temple, LIFE Bible College, and the planting of many churches. Upon her death in 1944, Rolf became President of the movement Aimee founded, The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. He served as President until 1988, and lived into his 90’s, always beloved by his ICFG church family as “Dr. Mac”. Under his leadership The Foursquare Church grew to have about 1800 congregations in the U.S., and many thousands of churches and meeting places in over 140 countries. I am an ordained minister in The Foursquare Church.

  17. Karen says:

    Chose to leave at intermission. Hopefully the second act was much much better than the first.

  18. Michael says:

    Dreadful. The worst set of lyrics I believe I’ve ever heard on stage. Banal, trite and elementary school rhyme schemes.
    Amateurish book with stock, stereotyped characterizations. Anachronisms abound. “History isnt made by well-behaved women” says Aimee’s mother. Really, KLG? Really? What inspired you, a bumper sticker ? Schizophrenic construction makes this seem like 2 One Acts rather than a cohesive show. The first act is all maudlin exposition with lots of soundalike pseudo anthems for Aimee. The second act is low budget razzmatazz that is too vulgar and amateurish to even be good camp.
    The composers haven’t decided I’d they want to go for a period sound or a poor contemporary Broadway sound so they went for both without a single memorable melody in the show. Cheesy orchestrations don’t help.
    Carolee Carmello, George Hearn, Roz Ryan and Candy Buckley try very, very hard to make something out of less than nothing. Mr. Hearn in particular seems to be visibly wondering how in the world his lustrous career had come to this. On the plus side…nominally…is an energetic ensemble where the audience can actually discern one ensemble member from the next. Each has a unique look, personality and energy and is refreshing.
    Also on the plus side is a very attractive and functional set design . But, someone more clever than I once said that you don’t leave the theater humming the scenery…
    But make no mistake. This show will run. Don’t underestimate the allure of Miss KLG. I was on the aisle second row, an during intermission no less than 8 people came up to the security guard to ask her if KLG was in the building. So a poor unsuspecting public will continue to shell out way too much of their hard earned do re mi and sit through this awful production just to get a glimpse of their favorite born again morning talk show host. And they will continue to give the perfunctory standing ovation at the end for the privelige. Oh, brother…

    • Sandra says:

      The overall audience response to the show has been quite positive. You’re completely entitled to your opinion but there’s no need to imply that those who actually enjoy the show (myself included) are unsophisticated or misguided. I think the show is great and I’m a theatre professional, not an “unsuspecting” Today show fan. I also happen to know George Hearn personally and I can assure you that any wonderment you may have imagined you saw is far from reality.

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