Preview performances are underway for “Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple Mcpherson,” a musical that takes on religion, sex, drugs, music, and romance. The book and lyrics are by TV host, actress, singer, and writer Kathie Lee Gifford. The show will officially open on November 15 at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theater.

Aimee Semple McPherson is a controversial 1920’s Pentecostal evangelist preacher who was the first female to earn a radio broadcast license and she created a Christian multimedia empire. The play also tells about the controversial events of Mcpherson’s life, including her mysterious kidnapping and scandalous love affairs. A drug overdose took her life in 1944, yet Time magazine named her as one of the most influential people of the 20th century.

Gifford said, “It angers me that a woman so extraordinary, who did such amazing things, has fallen through the cracks of history,” according to the

Gifford originally wrote the play for two actresses, she didn’t think one actress could take on the life of Aimee McPherson, but actress Carolee Carmello changed her mind.

Tony Award-nominated Carolee Carmello who recently played Mother Superior in “Sister Act,” will be the star of the show as Aimee Mcpherson. George Hearn plays two roles: Aimee’s father James Kennedy and preacher Brother Bob, Ed Watts plays Aimee’s husband, and Roz Ryan plays Emma Jo. Music is by David Pomeranz and David Friedman, choreography is by Lorin Latarro, costume designer is Gregory A. Poplyk, scenic designer is Walt Spangler, and lighting designer is Natasha Katz.

The musical has had developmental runs and has changed its title over the years. Under the title “Saving Aimee” the play took the stage at 5th Avenue Theatre in the fall of 2011. The production also had a developmental run under “Hurricane Aimee” at Arlington’s Signature Theatre. David Armstrong artistic director of Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre has made his Broadway debut with this production now titled: “Scandulous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple Mcpherson.”

According to the New York Times, religious Broadway musicals have been struggling a bit lately, but with the opening occurring during Thanksgiving and Christmas time, things might be changing. Plus Gifford has promoted the musical on The Today Show, which gives the musical national advertising that other fall musicals don’t have. However, so far “Scandalous” is having a slow start. The average ticket price for the week ending October 21, 2012 was $38.76 and gross ticket sales were $241,613.

Kathie Lee Gifford has faith that “Scandalous” will receive praises as it takes Broadway, but most of all she hopes it gives people hope.

Gifford said, “There’s a message for people who feel hopeless right now, that have screwed up their lives that have made a mess of things and are ready to give up. There is hope, there is hope,” as noted on

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