Carmello Is Famed Evangelist in Kathie Lee Gifford's Saving Aimee Musical April 10

By Kenneth Jones
10 Apr 2007

Carolee Carmello in an earlier workshop presentation of Saving Aimee.
Carolee Carmello in an earlier workshop presentation of Saving Aimee.
Photo by Joan Marcus

You've heard of Jesus Christ Superstar. Now, meet a 20th century superstar named Aimee, the renowned real-life evangelist whose story of faith, fame and frailty seems to cry out for music.

Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello (Parade, Lestat) begins to raise the roof of the Signature Theatre April 10, when the world premiere of Saving Aimee — the musical by Kathie Lee Gifford, David Pomeranz and David Friedman — begins in Arlington, VA.

The lady in question is Ontario-born Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944). According to Signature, "Long before Gloria Steinem there was a feminist who stood up against a male-dominated religious society. Long before O.J. Simpson there was a famous defendant in the trial of the century. Long before Madonna there was a free spirit who ignored the sexual mores of her day and married three times. And long before Marilyn Monroe there was a beloved American treasure who mysteriously died from an overdose of barbiturates. Based on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson, Saving Aimee is the story of one woman's life from her humble upbringing in a 'Salvation Army' family to her ascension as the charismatic founder of the Four Square Gospel Church. She changed the face of the pulpit, but was she a true woman of God or just one hell of a woman?"

Artistic director Eric Schaeffer stages the production, which runs to May 13 in Signature's mainstage MAX space. Press opening is April 22.

Saving Aimee has book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford, and music by David Pomeranz and David Friedman.



Carmello, a Tony Award nominee for Lestat and Parade, performed in an earlier Schaeffer-directed workshop production of Saving Aimee in White Plains, NY. At one time, the project was called Hurricane Aimee.

The cast also includes Florence Lacey as Mrs. Kennedy, E. Faye Butler as Emma Jo and Ed Dixon as Brother Bob/Mr. Kennedy with Doug Bowles, Larry Hylton, James Gardiner, Diego Prieto, Harry A. Winter, Ellen Marsh, Meghan Touey and Tammy Roberts.

Both Dixon and Lacey appeared Off-Broadway in Under the Bridge, Gifford's family-friendly musical directed by Schaeffer.

To read Playbill.com's April 3 Brief Encounter interview with Kathie Lee Gifford, click here.

The Saving Aimee creative team also includes choreographer Christopher d'Amboise, musical director Michael Rice, music supervisor Paul Raiman, orchestrator Bruce Coughlin, set designer Walt Spangler, costume designer Anne Kennedy, lighting designer Chris Lee and stage manager Kerry Epstein.

For more information visit www.signature-theatre.org.