Kathie Lee Gifford may be a darling of the TODAY SHOW, but outside of this show, the critics of her new Broadway play are far less kind. The new musical, SCANDALOUS, about the life controversial evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson is getting terrible reviews by the critics, wondering why it’s even playing on Broadway. While the writing and songs have been blasted as being terrible, talented singer and actress Carolee Carmello is getting praise as gifted, and doing as well as she can with Kathie Lee Gifford’s awful effort, which also has composers David Friedman and David Pomeranz co-conspiring with Kathie Lee Gifford to write this dreck.
The musical might have been a real labor of love for the TODAY SHOW hostess, who has been obsessed with the controversial Pentecostal figure since her college days, but that hardly meant that she really had the ability to write a truly successful project here. She just seemed to be in over her head here, even with help from her co-composers. Surprisingly, Kathie Lee Gifford was able to arrange for the Foursquare Foundation to co-produce this musical. The Foursquare Foundation is a part of the Foursquare Church. But, this co-production might have also toned down any real sharped edged look at McPherson’s real controversial life, leaving only a more fluffy and marshmallowy production here, that often seems to drag on with little interesting going for it.
In Gifford’s own mind, she thinks that Aimee McPherson was once as big a celebrity as “Madonna, Lady Gaga and Oprah, if you put them all together”, but that’s debatable point. In some religious circles, McPherson was huge, but in many other popular culture circles her influence was insignificant. Making a musical about some long since forgotten celebrity like this from the 1920’s is a story well past any expiration date, much like some old carton of milk. Most of your religious figures simply come and go, and few have left much of an impact after they’re gone beyond a few books that might live on.
Kathie Lee Gifford may have let her own love for evangelical Christianity too much dictate the limitations for some Broadway production here, producing something that few may really want to see, or find boring once they are trapped inside the theater performance. For up to $127 a seat, I think many people can find a better way to spend their money than this.
What will be next from Kathie Lee Gifford, “Benny Hinn: The Musical”? Who’d want to pay $127 to see that?