DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Tony Nominee and Scandalous Star Carolee Carmello

By Andrew Gans
26 Oct 2012

Carmello in Scandalous.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Question: Some people, I think, might be scared off a bit that the musical is about a religious person. What is the appeal of the show for those people? How would you tell them to come to the theatre?
Carmello: Well, if it helps anybody to know, I consider myself an atheist, and I find her story fascinating. I'm not religious at all, but I find her life fascinating, and I think that anyone who's that passionate about what they do is interesting. Whether it's a painter or sculptor, a doctor, pharmacist… Anyone who really throws themselves into their work 110%, I think, is interesting, and I find her story inspiring, and the creative team is filled with people of all different persuasions. From Christian to Jew to atheist to Scientologist… [Laughs.] We don't have a slant on this show. It's not like a Pentecostal musical, and I love what Kathie Lee says, which is, "The Sound of Music is not about Catholicism, even though a lot of the characters in the show are Catholic and part of the show takes place in an abbey… It's not about being Catholic. It's a story that has Catholicism as a background," and I think that's really true with this show, too. I mean, she was a Pentecostal preacher. That shouldn't scare anybody off. It's a fascinating story, and I think it's a really great piece of theatre.

Question: On another topic—how old are your kids now?
Carmello: Oh! My daughter just turned 17. She got her driver's license on Tuesday—a week ago. [Laughs.] She's going through the whole college application thing right now. And, my son is 11. He just started middle school last month, so they're getting big.

Question: Is it a little easier now juggling motherhood with being on Broadway?
Carmello: Well, it is easier because they are a little more self-sufficient. But anytime I go through this process with a new show where it's so all-absorbing, it's really hard on everybody else in my life. Everyone has to sort of understand that for the next month-and-a-half, the show is going to take over my life, and then it will settle down once we open, and I get into more of a routine. But right now, we all kind of live and eat and breathe this show. Until we get it up and running, that's going to be the case. So it's still really hard to juggle, and I miss my kids a lot during this time. I see them for maybe a half-an-hour in the morning, and then when I get home they're asleep, so it's tough.

Carmello in Scandalous.
photo by Jeremy Daniel

Question: You've been doing musicals a long time, and some work and some don't. How do you keep your excitement level up, but also be a little guarded if something will be a success or not?
Carmello: Yeah, I'm very guarded. I'm probably more pessimistic than people should be at this point. I always think everything is going to fail, and I'm pleasantly surprised if there are things that don't fail… Everyone has sort of a different outlook. There are people who start new shows and think that every one that they get involved in is going to be a hit... I guess because it's what I do for a living, I sort of try to take it in stride and just remember that some are going to work and some aren't. And, I hope that what I do within the piece will be noticed and appreciated, but you can't always control that either. You just do the best job you can and let it sort of play itself out and see what happens. You have to be hopeful....

I'm so thrilled that it made it to this point. After working on something for seven years and doing all these out-of-town productions and workshops and readings, you get to a point where you stop really hoping that it's going to make it to Broadway, and the fact that I'm standing now outside the theatre and looking up at the marquee, I'm kind of shocked and amazed and grateful for that. So whatever happens after this is gravy.

[For tickets and information, visit ScandalousOnBroadway.com, Ticketmaster.com and at (877) 250-BWAY.]

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.