Saturday, Dec 15, 2018
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 37 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 30, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 39
Here comes Kathie Lee
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Here comes Kathie Lee

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

Saving Aimee
5th Avenue Theatre
Through October 29


The world has come to know Kathie Lee Gifford for many things. Her voice has become famous, whether giving musical hints on Name That Tune or as the singing voice for Carnival Cruise Line advertisements. Gifford gained household recognition when she became the co-host of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, and then as the Emmy Award-winning host of the fourth hour of the Today Show.

What most people don't know about Gifford is that her passion lies with musical theater. Aside from appearing on Broadway in the Stephen Sondheim revue Putting it Together, Gifford has written several musicals, including the latest co-production with the 5th Avenue Theatre, Saving Aimee, based on the real life of charismatic evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson.

Gifford sat down with Seattle Gay News to discuss her life, her work in the theater, and the odd coincidences that connect her to the heroine of Saving Aimee.

Eric Andrews-Katz: What were the earliest musical influences on your life?

Kathie Lee Gifford: My mom sang, and my dad was a jazz saxophonist. I started singing folk music in the 1960s, and was a fan of Peter, Paul, and Mary, Bob Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel. I sang with my sister in a group. Later, it was when I heard Barbra Streisand singing 'People' on the radio. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

Andrews-Katz: How did you become part of the Today Show?

Gifford: While doing the Sondheim show in 1999, I discovered that I loved the creative energy it gave me. I decided I was going to do the theater work I wanted and so I left the world of television. Years later, when I got the call from NBC and they asked if I'd host the fourth hour [of the Today Show], I agreed on the condition that I could bring my passion for theater to the show. NBC has been very supportive, and is even doing a show live from Seattle on October 20 featuring Saving Aimee.

Andrews-Katz: When did you first become interested in the story of Aimee Semple McPherson?

Gifford: I went to college [Oral Roberts University] and heard about Aimee there. I remember thinking, 'How could anyone live a life so unbelievable?' When I pursued my own career, I started meeting people who knew her. I dated her step-grandson. My pastor studied at the Bible college she founded. As a child, my husband Frank had gone to her church. In fact, when researching the musical, I met with her daughter, Roberta [Star Semple]. It turns out Roberta's husband was Name That Tune's creator, Harry Salter.

Andrews-Katz: What made you decide to write the musical?

Gifford: If you read any of the books on her life, or see the clips and interviews, she screams to be musicalized. She was so charismatic, and bigger than life. She's mentioned in the [original] lyrics of 'Hooray For Hollywood!' Aimee wrote 13 operas and thousands of songs. She was the first to preach about the Bible with pageants, so much that her preaching practically made her the P.T. Barnum of the pulpit! She used to say, 'I'm going to take what they were using to build the devil's kingdom, and use it to build God's.' That's what she did, becoming one of the most entertaining, successful, and because of that, controversial women of her day.

Andrews-Katz: Great controversy surrounded McPherson's life in regard to her alleged kidnapping. Do you think she was kidnapped, or was it a publicity stunt?

Gifford: As the author, I was fascinated by her personal walk of faith. When you study everything about Aimee, you learn that she didn't start out as a charlatan trying to rip off the world using religion. I've known too many real religious hypocrites, and many people who have sincere devotion in all walks of faith. I didn't want to tell just the tabloid story; I'm not interested in that. I wanted to tell the real story of a real woman of faith, a woman who lost her faith. That's far more interesting dramatically. I want people to leave the theater arguing about her actions. I have lots of thoughts about who she was, or what she did, but I want the audience to make their own conclusions about Aimee.

Andrews-Katz: Another controversy involves McPherson's death. Do you think it was suicide, an accidental overdose, or murder?

Gifford: I never heard it was murder. Everyone agrees that it was an accidental overdose. She made two phone calls for help, according to the telephone records at the hotel in Oakland. She was about to open another one of her churches, and was at a very good place in her life. But she was addicted to drugs. Aimee died in 1944, and they were not as advanced in research on barbiturates as they are today. Nobody I know thinks it was a suicide.

Andrews-Katz: Your name elicits extreme reactions from people - there's usually no gray zone. Why do you think that is?

Gifford: You'd have to ask them. Long ago, I stopped worrying and thinking about that. I just let it go. There are two kinds of ignorance in people: those who aren't aware of the facts, and those who, even when presented with the facts, ignore it if it's not within their agenda. I sang a song once, that I wrote with David Friedman [co-composer of Saving Aimee], and the last line says, 'If I believe all the crap that I read about me & I'd hate me, too!' What they think doesn't matter to me - that's one good thing about getting older. I think back and say to myself, 'Why did I let one moment of my life be stolen from me by people who don't even know me?'

Kathie Lee Epstein was born in Paris, France, but grew up in Bowie, Maryland. At 17, she captured attention in America's Junior Miss Pageant, and quickly moved on to appearing as a lead vocalist on Name That Tune and Hee Haw Honeys. It is from her 15-year run on Live With Regis and Kathie Lee that most people recognize her. Gifford has released 16 CDs and written nine books. She has written four musicals, including Under the Bridge with music by David Pomeranz, and the lyrics for a new production of It's A Wonderful Life with music by John McDaniel.

Saving Aimee has its book and lyrics written by Kathie Lee Gifford, and music co-composed by David Pomeranz and David Friedman. It made its workshop premiere in 2005, and debuted in 2007. With an eye on Broadway, Saving Aimee is being revised to open at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, and will star two-time Tony Award-nominee Carolee Carmello and Tony Award-winner Judy Kaye.

Tell a friend:

Share on Facebook  Share on Facebook

Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

    Share on Delicious

Share on StumbleUpon!

Here comes Kathie Lee
------------------------------
Betty White makes Lifeline Program 'white hot'
------------------------------
Behind the blue: An interview with a Blue Man
------------------------------
Tales From the Musicquarium ?back for one month only
------------------------------
PNB opens 39th season with Wheeldon program
------------------------------
Endearing MilkMilk Lemonade could use some tightening
------------------------------
Bon Iver gives raw, intense performance at Paramount
------------------------------
Death Cab for Cutie interview on October 21
------------------------------

------------------------------
Rick Santorum: Apologize To Gay Soldiers!
------------------------------
A Dyke About Town: Dr. John at Jazz Alley - Seattle Women's Chorus
------------------------------
SGN's 2011 fall film preview: Part I
------------------------------
SGN's 2011 fall film preview: Part II
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
------------------------------

------------------------------
SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Erasure singer a true Gay icon
------------------------------
Northwest News
------------------------------
Letters
------------------------------
Terrific changes at Seattle Symphony
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml
copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2011

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News