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Thursday, 02 August 2012 16:31

Tony Award Winner George Hearn Joins the Cast of SCANDALOUS

Two-Time Tony Award Winner
* *  GEORGE HEARN  * * 
Joins the Cast of the New Broadway Musical 


The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson

Starring Two-Time Tony Award Nominee

Book and Lyrics by KATHIE LEE GIFFORD


Music Direction and Vocal Arrangements by JOEL FRAM

Choreographed by LORIN LATARRO




*   *   *   *   *   *   * 
George Hearn
  George Hearn

This fall, two-time Tony Award winner George Hearn returns to the Broadway stage to co-star in the new musical SCANDALOUS: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.

In this, his 19th Broadway show, Hearn will portray the dual roles of James Kennedy, Aimee's kindhearted father; and Brother Bob, a popular preacher whose growing resentment of Aimee and her public power fuels him to vehemently discredit her from his pulpit.  

He joins previously announced leading lady and two-time Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello (Parade, Lestat, Sister Act) as Aimee Semple McPherson.

With book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford and music by David Pomeranz and David Friedman, SCANDALOUS begins performances at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre (250 W. 52nd St.) on Saturday, October 13, 2012.

Opening Night is set for Thursday, November 15 (6:30 p.m.).

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

George Hearn created the role of Max von Mayerling in the Los Angeles premiere and Broadway production of Sunset Boulevard for which he received his second Tony Award. He won his first Tony Award for originating the role of Albin in La Cage aux Folles, a role that he reprised in London and earned him an Olivier Award nomination. 

He received Tony Award nominations for Putting It Together, A Doll's Life and Watch on the Rhine. He won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the title role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street after having played the role on Broadway and the national tour with Angela Lansbury. He returned to the role in May, 2000 with the New York Philharmonic and in the summer of 2001 with the San Francisco Symphony and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago for a concert version that co-starred Patti LuPone.

His other Broadway appearances include Wicked, The Diary of Anne Frank with Natalie Portman; Meet Me in St. Louis; I Remember Mama with Liv Ullman; Ah, Wilderness! with Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards; An Almost Perfect Person with Ms. Dewhurst; The Changing Room and A Time for Singing.

He starred in the New York City Opera's Kismet and in the all-star concert productions of Follies at Avery Fisher Hall and South Pacific at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre. 

He appeared in many productions with the New York Shakespeare Festival and has a long association with Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. Regional productions include Promises, Promises for Ovations in Chicago; I Do, I Do; Love Letters with Rue McClanahan; and most recently The Visit at Signature Theatre with Chita Rivera.

His many television appearances include "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Law & Order," "Homicide," "Murder! She Wrote," "L.A. Law," "The Golden Girls," "Dear John," "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and the television films A Fire in the Dark; False Arrest; Annie: A Royal Adventure; Durango and Sarah, Plain And Tall: Winter's End.

His motion pictures include Barney's Great Adventure, See You in the Morning, The Vanishing, Sneakers, The Devil's Own and Flags of Our Fathers

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Directed by David Armstrong, SCANDALOUS is based on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944), the world's first media superstar evangelist -- a woman whose passion for saving souls equaled her passion for making sensational headlines and attracting overflow crowds of thousands throughout the world. Time Magazine named Aimee Semple McPherson one the most influential people of the twentieth century.

Set in 1920's Los Angeles, holiness collides with Hollywood in this extraordinary tale of one remarkable woman's charismatic rise to fame amidst scandalous love affairs and growing controversy, inevitably ending in her much-publicized fall from grace.  

Additional casting will be announced soon.

With choreography by Lorin Latarro (Fanny at City Center) and musical direction by Joel Fram, SCANDALOUS features scenic design by Walt Spangler (Desire Under the Elms), costume design by Gregory A. Poplyk (Broadway debut), lighting design by Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Once, Aida), sound design by Ken Travis (Newsies, Memphis) and orchestrations by Tony Award winner Bruce Coughlin (The Light in the Piazza).

SCANDALOUS: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson is produced by Dick and Betsy DeVos, Foursquare Foundation and Jeffrey Finn, Executive Producer, in association with The 5th Avenue Theatre (David Armstrong, Executive Producer and Artistic Director; Bernadine Griffin, Managing Director; Bill Berry, Producing Director).

Visit SCANDALOUS online at


SCANDALOUS: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson will play at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre (250 W. 52nd St., between Broadway and 8th Ave.). Beginning Saturday, October 13, the pre-opening preview performance schedule is as follows*:

     Tuesday at 8 p.m.
     Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
     Thursday at 8 p.m. 
     Friday at 8 p.m.
     Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
     Sunday at 3 p.m.

[* Schedule Exception: There is no matinee performance on Wednesday, October 17.]

Beginning Tuesday, November 20, the regular weekly performance schedule is:

     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.
     Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
     Sunday at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $57.00- $127.00 for all performances** (all prices include a $2.00 facility fee) and are available beginning Monday, August 20 by calling at 877-250-BWAY (2929) or by visiting

Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Neil Simon Theatre Box Office beginning Monday, September 17.

Group sales (12+ tickets) are available by calling 212-398-8383.

[** For the holiday weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas, tickets are $77.00-$147.00.]

  Aimee Semple McPherson. 
  (Click image to download high-res JPG.)
In the early 20th-century, Aimee Semple McPherson was a woman far ahead of her time. Driven, passionate, rebellious and often-controversial, she was the first woman evangelist to build a worldwide following of millions, at a time when women were expected to marry and have children, and leave religion and other important pursuits to men.


Although she was reared in a Christian home, as a teenager Aimee began to question the Bible. When she was 17 years old and still in high school, she attended a revival service conducted by evangelist Robert Semple. That revival meeting changed her life not only spiritually, but romantically as well. Aimee continued to attend the revival and became personally acquainted with the evangelist. Before long, the Robert Semple had won her heart. The two were married within the year.

Robert Semple died two years later while the couple was in Hong Kong on a missions trip, and Aimee was left broke and alone, waiting for the imminent birth of her first child. When her daughter was a month old, Aimee returned to the United States, facing life as a single mother. 

Aimee began to make the necessary adjustments to provide for herself and her daughter. Not long after her return, she met and married a businessman, Harold McPherson, and tried to settle down to a "normal" home life.

But after a long illness, she made a promise to God despite her feelings of inadequacy, and began evangelizing by going into the bars, wrestling arenas, movie houses and brothels to invite lost souls to her tent revivals on the east coast. She soon expanded to other parts of the country, to surprising success. People gathered in ever-increasing numbers to hear the remarkable lady evangelist.

When she was not meeting in a tent, she arranged to have the largest auditorium in whatever city she was in so that she could accommodate the record number of people who attended. Once, in San Diego, the National Guard had to be brought in to control the crowd of more than 30,000. People often stood in line and waited for several hours so that they could be assured of seats for the McPherson's service.


In 1923 at age 33, she opened the doors of Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. The church held 5,300 people and for several years was filled to capacity three times each day and five times every Sunday. There, she developed an extensive social ministry, feeding more than 1.5 million people during the Great Depression.

Angelus Temple quickly became the spiritual home for thousands and a base for McPherson's worldwide evangelistic ministry. With Aimee at the helm as its mesmerizing leader, what grew out of an initial desire to have a place from which to send forth the gospel quickly evolved into a massive mega-church organization.  

McPherson presented elaborate and illustrated sermons that attracted even those from the entertainment industry, looking to see a "show" that rivaled anything Hollywood had to offer. Her infamous stage productions drew people who would never have otherwise thought to enter a church. She believed that the gospel was to be presented at every opportunity, and she used all the means at her disposal to present it to as many people as possible.

Video: "Evangelist Aimee Invades
Broadway To Save Sinners" 
(Hearst Metrotone News)

By incorporating the cutting-edge communications media of her day, McPherson was one of the first evangelists to preach her sermons 

throughout the world. While holding a revival meeting in San Francisco in April 1922, she became the first woman to preach a sermon over the radio.

McPherson soon had one of the most recognizable voices in the world - and not just in the church world. Every city where services were held usually had in attendance civic leaders, as well as pastors representing the local churches of every denomination.


On May 18, 1926, the citizens of Los Angeles, and her Angelus Temple congregation, were stunned to hear the news that Aimee had disappeared while swimming near Venice Beach. Members of her congregation went to the waters where she disappeared. No trace of her body was found. The local police investigated hundreds of leads - including a ransom note signed by "The Avengers," which demanded half a million dollars for her safe return.

32 days later, Aimee was found walking out of the desert near Douglas, Arizona. She alleged that she had been kidnapped, tortured, drugged and held for ransom in a shack somewhere across the Mexican border. Only after her kidnappers became careless did she manage to escape and walk for over 13 hours back to civilization.

But, it was soon noted that her shoes showed no sign of a 13-hour walk through the desert. And the shack where she said that she was held could not be located, although it was later. There was also no satisfactory explanation for the fact that she disappeared in broad daylight in nothing but her swimming suit, though reappeared 32 days later fully clothed.

Rumors abounded about what had really happened to her. Some claimed that she had disappeared to have an abortion, or that she had run off with a lover. Ultimately so many questions were raised -- and so few answers provided by McPherson -- that the district attorney charged her with perjury. 

In the trial that followed, the prosecution introduced several witnesses who said that she had been in various hotels with Angelus Temple radio operator Kenneth Ormiston. But Aimee stuck to her kidnapping story. Meanwhile, the Angelus Temple continued to draw huge and faithful crowds.


In the years that followed, McPherson continued her preaching and international tours, but her media celebrity had all but ended, though rumors followed her persistently. She married a third time in 1931, but divorced three years later. She died in 1944 from an accidental overdose of barbiturates.

Aimee Semple McPherson is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. The Angelus Temple, along with its Dream Center, is still thriving, caring for more than 30,000 people each week in the deepest sewer of human despair in Los Angeles.

Carolee CarmelloCAROLEE CARMELLO (Aimee Semple McPherson) is currently starring as Mother Superior in Sister Act on Broadway. She also performed leading roles on Broadway in City of Angels, Falsettos, Parade (for which she received a Tony nomination and a Drama Desk Award), 1776, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Kiss Me Kate, Urinetown, Lestat (Tony nomination, Drama Desk nomination), Mamma Mia! and The Addams Family (Drama Desk nomination and Outer Critics Circle nomination).  Her Off-Broadway credits include: john and jen, I Can Get It for You Wholesale, Das Barbecü, Hello Again (Obie Award), A Class Act, The Vagina Monologues and Elegies.  Ms. Carmello has also appeared on television in "Law and Order," "Frasier," "Ed," and as Maple LaMarsh in "Remember W.E.N.N." (nominated with the cast for a SAG Award - Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series). She has toured the U.S. with productions of Chess, Big River, Falsettos and Les Misérables, and her concert appearances have taken her across America and Europe, including several engagements at Carnegie Hall. SCANDALOUS marks her 12th Broadway show. 
KATHIE LEE GIFFORD (Book, Lyrics, Additional Music) has enjoyed a diverse and successful four-decade career as a television host, actress, singer, playwright, songwriter and author. She's best known for her 15 years on "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" (11 Emmy nominations), and is currently the three-time Emmy Award-winning co-host of the fourth hour of NBC's "Today" show with Hoda Kotb. Gifford made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim's Putting It Together in 2000, then originated the role of Marta Dunhill in Rupert Holmes' Thumbs and played Miss Hannigan in a record-breaking run of Annie at Madison Square Garden. In 2005 her first musical Under the Bridge (book and lyrics) opened Off-Broadway. She contributed three songs to Hats!, the musical, has recorded numerous CDs and is a three-time New York Times best-selling author. Mrs. Gifford lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children and three dogs, whom she loves dearly but rarely sees because SCANDALOUS has pretty much taken over her entire life.

DAVID POMERANZ (Music). David's songs and solo recordings have sold over 40 million copies worldwide and his compositions have been recorded and performed by artists as varied as Bette Midler, Freddie Mercury, Barry Manilow, Isaac Hayes, Richie Sambora (of Bon Jovi), Clay Aiken, Kenny Loggins and Missy Elliott. An Emmy Award Nominee, David's music has been featured in numerous feature films (Big, King Kong) and television shows including "Boston Legal," "Will & Grace" and "American Idol" (his was the voice also heard each week singing the title theme for the popular hit ABC series "Perfect Strangers"). In musical theater, David contributed songs to the West End hit Time, starring Cliff Richard and Sir Laurence Olivier, and he wrote both music and lyrics for the Charlie Chaplin musical Little Tramp which premiered at the Haymarket Theatre in England and spawned a studio album on Warner Brothers Records featuring Richard Harris, Mel Brooks, Petula Clark, Lea Salonga and Tim Curry. His dazzling new musical version of A Tale of Two Cities opened in spring of 2012 at London's Charing Cross Theatre. David was composer (in collaboration with lyricist/bookwriter, Kathie Lee Gifford), of Under the Bridge, which starred Ed Dixon and ran Off-Broadway in 2004-05.

DAVID FRIEDMAN (Music). From "We Can Be Kind" to "Listen to My Heart," "Help Is on the Way," "We Live on Borrowed Time," "Trust the Wind" and "I'll Be Here With You," David has written songs of inspiration, love and hope that take on new emotional meaning in challenging times. In addition to SCANDALOUS, David and Peter Kellogg have four musicals in the works: Chasing Nicolette, Front Page Girl (based on the life of Nellie Bly), Desperate Measures (loosely based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure) and Lincoln in Love. David conducted/vocal arranged five musicals on Broadway as well as Disney classic films Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas and Hunchback, and wrote songs for Aladdin and the King of Thieves, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Trick and Bambi II. David produced all of the late-great Nancy LaMott's CDs, his songs have been recorded by artists such as Diana Ross and Barry Manilow, and he writes a new song with Kathie Lee for the "Today" show once a month. David has written the groundbreaking book The Thought Exchange - Overcoming Our Resistance to Living a Senational Life. In addition to his busy musical life, David lectures and teaches Thought Exchange all over the country.

DAVID ARMSTRONG (Director) is the Executive Producer and Artistic Director of The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle where he has directed acclaimed productions of Candide, Sweeney Todd, HAIR, A Little Night Music, Company, Hello, Dolly!, Anything Goes, MAME, Pippin, The Secret Garden, Vanities, White Christmas, The Rocky Horror Show, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Saving Aimee. Under his leadership The 5th Avenue has emerged as one of the nation's leading musical theater companies especially in regards to the development and production of new work. Over the past 10 years the company has produced 14 new musicals, five of which have transferred to Broadway, and two of which have received the Tony Award for Best Musical (Hairspray and Memphis). Mr. Armstrong's direction and choreography have been seen in New York, Los Angeles and at many leading regional theaters including The Kennedy Center, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Ordway Center, Cincinnati Playhouse, St. Louis Rep, ACT Theater, Ford's Theater and Paper Mill Playhouse. As a writer he has created the books for The 5th's world premiere musical Yankee Doodle Dandy!, as well as several musicals for Theatreworks USA including A Christmas Carol, which ran Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. His Cole Porter revue, Hot N' Cole, which he devised and directed, has been produced by scores of theaters throughout America.

LORIN LATARRO (Choreographer) choreographed Fanny at City Center Encores!, Broadway's American Idiot (Associate), Cy Coleman's The Best Is Yet To Come (Drama Desk Award) at The Rubicon and 59E59th Theater, Saving Aimee (Seattle's 5th Avenue Theater), Maurice Sendak's Hansel and Gretel (Lincoln Center), City Club (Minetta Lane), Grand Night for Singing (Bucks County Playhouse), Lysistrata (Avery Fisher), The Magic Flute and Prokofiev's Love for Three Oranges (Juilliard Opera Company), The Jerusalem Syndrome (NYMF), Apassionata (international tour), How To Succeed... (White Plains Perf. Arts Center), All Singin All Dancin' and Broadway by the Year Series (Town Hall), Westport Gala for Bernadette Peters, Sky Boys (The Henry Street Playhouse), Tomorrow Morning (The York), Jersey Shore and Heroes (Broadway Bares), work for Momix, Williamstown Festival and the "Rewrite" music video for Sia. TV includes Green Day's Grammy performance, NBC's You're the One That I Want and Clash of the Choirs (Associate) and dance commercials for Savion Glover and Coco Rocha. Lorin co-wrote the musical The Cosmopolitan (award winner at NAMT) and is a Dancebreak recipient. As a performer, Lorin performed in 14 Broadway shows including lead roles in Movin Out, Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, Fosse and Swing!, Kiss Me Kate, Spamalot and danced internationally with Martha Graham and Momix. BFA from The Juilliard School. 

JOEL FRAM (Music Director) has worked extensively in New York and London, conducting the Broadway productions of Wicked, Sweet Smell of Success, The Music Man, James Joyce's The Dead, Jumpers and Cats; the West End company of Wicked; and Forbidden Broadway at the Menier Chocolate Factory. He created musical arrangements for the ballet Pictures from an Exhibition at both the Young Vic and Sadler's Wells Theatre. U.S. national tours and regional credits include Falsettos, Cats, the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourne's Dreams from a Summer House and the world premiere of two Andrew Lippa musicals, The Little Princess and john & jen. At New York's Symphony Space, he created the award-winning "New Voices" concert series and, for Stephen Sondheim's 75th birthday, co-produced and curated the 12-hour marathon "Wall to Wall Stephen Sondheim". Mr. Fram has music directed two cast albums (john & jen, A...My Name is Alice), played with the New York Pops and Boston Pops orchestras, restored several lost musicals for the acclaimed Encores! series, served on the musical theatre faculty of Yale and New York University, and was an Associate Music Supervisor for international productions of Wicked.

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