Broadway gets ‘Scandalous’

Musical co-created by Gifford opens in fall

A musical with book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford, “Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson,” has booked a Broadway run that opens this fall at the Neil Simon Theater.

Tuner, based on the true story of an early 20th-century evangelist who pioneered the use of radio and motion pictures to spread the good word, was formerly called “Saving Aimee.” It bowed at the Signature Theater in Arlignton, Va. in 2007 and was seen last year at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle.

Carolee Carmello (“Parade,” “The Addams Family”) returns to the title role for the Broadway incarnation. David Pomeranz — who has collaborated with book writer and lyricist Gifford on another tuner, “Under the Bridge” — and David Friedman pens the music.

David Armstrong, the exec producer and a.d. of the 5th Avenue, will direct, replacing Signature a.d. Eric Schaeffer, with Lorin Latarro returning as choreographer.

Show earned mixed reviews in its Seattle run, although the new title and new director suggest the show’s been retooled.

Set in 1920s Hollywood, the storyline follows the rise and fall of McPherson (Carmello), who gained international fame as a media-savvy evangelist and later was the subject of a scandal involving an alleged kidnapping and possible perjury.

Cast for the Broadway incarnation has not yet been set, although the Seattle version also starred Judy Kaye (“Nice Work If You Can Get It”) and Ed Dixon, among others.

Rialto staging is produced by Dick and Betsy DeVos, Foursquare Foundation and exec producer Jeffrey Finn, inn associate with the 5th Avenue Theater. “Scandalous” begins previews Oct. 13 ahead of a Nov. 15 opening at the Neil Simon, where “Jesus Christ Superstar” ended its run July 1.

Gifford took advantage of her TV profile by getting the publicity ball rolling with an announcement on NBC’s “Today” show, for which she serves as a co-host during the telecast’s fourth hour.

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