“Once again,” Carolee Carmello likes to joke, “I’m out of work.” Her family, friends and fans need not worry. It won’t be for long.
An Albany High graduate and 1983 University at Albany alum, Carmello received the third Tony Award nomination of her career Tuesday morning when she was singled out for her performance as the title character in Kathie Lee Gifford’s “Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.”
While Carmello got universal acclaim from the critics, the show didn’t do that well, opening on Nov. 15 and closing on Dec. 9 after just 31 previews and 29 shows.
“I’m thrilled of course, honored and surprised, all those things, but I wish I still had the job that came with the honor,” said Carmello. “It’s nice to be remembered, especially for a show that ended a couple of months ago, but it’s always a little bittersweet.”
2013 Tony Nominations
Click here for a list of this year's nominees.
Carmello’s competition in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical category are Patina Miller of “Pippin,” Stephanie J. Block for “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “Valisia LeKae for “Motown the Musical” and Laura Osnes for “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”
“Scandalous” is about the life of Aimee Semple McPherson, a Los Angeles-based evangelist in the 1920s and 1930s who believed that divine inspiration was the reason for the founding of the United States. While most reviews were negative, Carmello once again earned praise from all the major critics, The New York Times calling her “a gloriously gifted singing actress.”
Two previous nods
Carmello earned Tony Award nominations for “Lestat” in 2006 and “Parade” in 1999. In 2010, she won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (“The Addams Family”), her third Drama Desk nomination.
In both of her earlier Tony Award nominations, the show Carmello was cited for had already closed.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be nominated three times, and all three have been for shows that were already closed,” she said. “That’s a little bit sad for me because I remember how much fun I had while I was doing the show.”
Carmello said she spent much of Tuesday morning in her pajamas talking on the phone and answering text messages.
“I’m looking for a job,” she said, laughing. “I had a whole chunk of my summer lined up for another show but that was canceled at the last minute, so now I’m scrambling looking for work. Oh well, that’s show business.”
Regarding the show’s failure, Gifford told Hoda Kotb, her co-host of the “Today” show: “Hurricane Sandy was just devastating to everyone in the Tri-State area. But Broadway was badly hit. . . . Nobody has really recovered. The new shows haven’t.”
Carmello, however, wasn’t about to blame Hurricane Sandy, which hit the northern Atlantic Coast about two weeks before the show opened.
“I’m not sure what she meant, and while it certainly did affect us for a few days, I don’t think it had that much of an impact on the run of the show,” said Carmello, who lives in Leonia, N.J., with her husband, Gregg Edelmann, and their two children. “For whatever reason, it didn’t get embraced by the theater community. I think we would have found an audience if we had been able to stay out there longer, but they just couldn’t afford to keep it going. There are a lot of good shows on Broadway that unfortunately don’t get the time to really find their place.”
Carmello, who was named to the Capital Region Entertainment Hall of Fame in September of 2011, has 12 Broadway credits on her résumé, including a 2004-2005 gig as Donna Sheridan in “Mamma Mia!” Before heading to New York City after graduating from the University at Albany with a business degree, Carmello had performed at the Schenectady Light Opera Company, the Lake George Dinner Theatre and the Thruway House on Washington Avenue in Albany for Park Playhouse creator Mimi Scott.
Another area connection
Included among Tony Award nominations for Best Producer was Elliott Masie of Saratoga Springs for “Kinky Boots,” which earned 13 nominations.
“We’ve been involved in producing Broadway shows for about two years now, and a colleague of mine suggested I look at ‘Kinky Boots,’ I did, and I decided to invest,” said Masie, who runs Masie Productions. “I also own some racehorses, and this is a lot like investing in that. You’re always taking a chance.”
Masie Productions also has a financial interest in two other shows on Broadway, “Trip to Bountiful” with Cuba Gooding and Cicely Tyson, and “MacBeth” with Alan Cumming.
“I can’t take any of the credit for the success, but it’s very exciting and I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” said Masie. “Cicely was also nominated, so we’re very excited about her. Obviously, you want to have great ticket sales, but to get a Tony nomination is always incredibly validating, mainly for the cast and crew.”
“Kinky Boots” is based on a British movie about a real-life shoe factory. The music and lyrics were written by Cyndi Lauper, with book by Harvey Fierstein.