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Monday, 13 August 2012 21:39

New Musical SCANDALOUS Launches Website

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LAUNCHES TODAY!          * *


Starring Two-Time Tony Award Nominee


 and Two-Time Tony Award Winner


Book and Lyrics by KATHIE LEE GIFFORD


Music Direction and Vocal Arrangements by JOEL FRAM

Choreographed by LORIN LATARRO





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  Artwork for the new Broadway musical   SCANDALOUS: The Life and Trials of 
  Aimee Semple McPherson.

Today, the official website launches for the new Broadway musical SCANDALOUS: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.

Visit to view an exclusive video interview with bookwriter and lyricist Kathie Lee Gifford, plus performance clips, company member bios, production photos and the latest news.

Featuring 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.).

SCANDALOUS stars two-time Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello (Sister Act, Mamma Mia, Parade) as Aimee Semple McPherson, two-time Tony Award winner George Hearn (Sunset Blvd., La Cage aux Folles, Sweeney Todd) as James Kennedy and Brother Bob, Edward Watts (Finian's Rainbow) as Robert Semple and David Hutton, and Roz Ryan (Chicago, Dreamgirls) as Emma Jo Schaeffer.  

Additional casting will be announced soon.

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.  

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 in association with The 5th Avenue Theatre (David Armstrong, Executive Producer and Artistic Director; Bernadine Griffin, Managing Director; Bill Berry, Producing Director) and Jeffrey Finn, Executive Producer.




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.