Previews of Kathie Lee Gifford's Broadway show "Scandalous" have impressed both secular and Christian audiences this week.
The musical follows the life of the 20th century evangelist and Foursquare Church founder Aimee Semple McPherson, who is portrayed by Carolee Carmello.
McPherson has been recognized as a pioneer for women as she became the second woman to ever be granted a broadcasting license. Her weekly sermon performances drew large audiences in Los Angeles and California, but the media celebrity's life was not without controversy.
"Scandalous" details McPherson's life through three marriages and her quest to follow God's will as she reached hundreds of people with her sermons.
Before playing McPherson in "Scandalous," Carmello has appeared in Broadway musicals such as "Parade," for which she won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress, as well as a Tony Award nomination.
Carmello's credits also include "Mamma Mia," "The Addams Family," and more recently, the actress appeared in "Sister Act" as Mother Superior.
On the writing side of "Scandalous," Gifford said it had been a longtime dream to take the script to Broadway. A born-again Christian, Gifford worked on the script for 13 years before its debut this fall.
After attending a viewing "Scandalous" at the Neil Simon Theatre on Wednesday, Gifford told The Christian Post that writing the script was a "calling."
The "Today Show" host, singer, and humanitarian also noted that McPherson's story had "fallen through the cracks of history" even though her evangelical influence still has an effect today.
While "Scandalous" is still undergoing changes, it captivated the audience and elicited many laughs while conveying a subtle, touching message of redemption and forgiveness. Ticket information for the show can be found on ScandalousOnBroadway.com.
David Pomeranz and David Friedman wrote the music found in "Scandalous," and David Armstrong directs the production.
Some Broadway musicals based on religious themes have been suffering as of late. This spring, "Leap of Faith" flopped despite its $14 million budget, while revivals of "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Sister Act" and "Godspell" struggled at the box office and closed this summer.