`Saving Aimee' never quite approaches the divine

Rousing tunes and compelling story aside, musical marred by underdeveloped characters, themes

Theater Review

April 29, 2007|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,Sun Theater Critic

In its best moments, Saving Aimee - a new musical about evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson - makes the audience feel like part of McPherson's congregation. Preaching directly to us, often in song and with a projection of congregants behind her, Carolee Carmello's Aimee does everything within her power to awaken the divine spirit in the assembled theatergoers.

But Carmello's stirring voice, ardent conviction and sympathetic presence aren't enough to save Saving Aimee, a chronology-bound musical making its world premiere under Eric Schaeffer's direction at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va. Although frequently rousing, Saving Aimee at its most derivative calls to mind not just one, but three Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals - in subject matter as well as sound.

SAVING AIMEE -- Through May 13 at Signature Theatre, 2800 S. Stafford St., Arlington, Va. -- $37-$63 -- 703-820-9771 or signature-theatre.org

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