After knocking it out of the proverbial park Thursday night as Aimee Semple McPherson in the new tuner “Scandalous,” Carolee Carmello was under doctor’s orders for vocal rest and missed her opening night party at the Copacabana.
“I originally was going to write the role for two, with Carolee and a young Aimee,” said Kathie Lee Gifford, who spent 12 years (“but not nonstop”) on the book and lyrics. “Carolee said to me, ‘Would you ever consider rewriting this for one actress?’ I remember saying, ‘Are you crazy! You want to work that hard?’ And she said the greatest thing, ‘All my life I’ve worked that hard so I can work that hard.’ She knew from day one that it would be the challenge of a lifetime – and she delivered.”
Gifford says she has been fascinated with the 1920s evangelist for 40 years. “I do relate to her,” she said. “Obviously, I’ve been a tabloid target myself.”
On opening night, Gifford enjoyed the company of her “Today” cohorts including Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales and Hoda Kotb, who were cheering alongside Liza Minnelli and Regis Philbin.