New “Born for This” Musical Follows BeBe and CeCe Winans’ Time as “PTL Club” Singers; Gospel Stars Remain Friends With Jim Bakker

Photo Credit: Getty/Illustration: EEW Magazine
Photo Credit: Getty/Illustration: EEW Magazine

As impressionable teenagers, BeBe Winans and his sister CeCe traveled a remarkable God-focused path, from a ­gospel-infused Pentecostal home in Detroit to the stage of a Christian television ministry in Charlotte, presided over by none other than Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.

Now their improbable road to tuneful evangelical fame, in the run-up to the Bakkers’ tabloid-frenzied trials and tribulations, becomes the trajectory of a musical. “Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story,” with new music by Winans himself and a book he wrote with director Charles Randolph-Wright, debuts in the spring in Atlanta before taking up residence for much of the summer at Arena Stage.

“It’s almost like experiencing an out-of-body experience,” the Grammy-winning BeBe Winans said by phone from Atlanta, where he’s working on music for “Greenleaf,” a new megachurch-set television series for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. “When you’re going through life, you don’t think your life is anything other than like anyone else’s. You have your ups and downs, so you never think of your life as a musical.”

With the assistance of ­Randolph-Wright, a frequent presence at Arena as both writer and director, the story of the teens’ years with the Bakkers, who brought them aboard as backup singers for their popular “The PTL Club” show, will be a major element of the musical. A sex scandal and revelations of financial improprieties would end Jim Bakker’s ministry — and send him to prison on multiple counts of mail and wire fraud. Still, audiences are not apt to get a negative impression of him or the often-lampooned Tammy Faye Bakker this time around.

“To this day, Jim Bakker is one of our dearest friends,” said Winans, who went on to a gospel recording career as a solo artist and with his sister. “And Tammy Faye became our mother. Thirty years after [“PTL”], when my sister and I were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the first person I called was Jim Bakker.” Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker divorced in 1992, and she died in 2007. Jim Bakker lives in Branson, Mo., according to Randolph-Wright.

“It’s almost like experiencing an out-of-body experience,” the Grammy-winning BeBe Winans said by phone from Atlanta, where he’s working on music for “Greenleaf,” a new megachurch-set television series for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. “When you’re going through life, you don’t think your life is anything other than like anyone else’s. You have your ups and downs, so you never think of your life as a musical.”

With the assistance of ­Randolph-Wright, a frequent presence at Arena as both writer and director, the story of the teens’ years with the Bakkers, who brought them aboard as backup singers for their popular “The PTL Club” show, will be a major element of the musical. A sex scandal and revelations of financial improprieties would end Jim Bakker’s ministry — and send him to prison on multiple counts of mail and wire fraud. Still, audiences are not apt to get a negative impression of him or the often-lampooned Tammy Faye Bakker this time around.

“To this day, Jim Bakker is one of our dearest friends,” said Winans, who went on to a gospel recording career as a solo artist and with his sister. “And Tammy Faye became our mother. Thirty years after [“PTL”], when my sister and I were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the first person I called was Jim Bakker.” Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker divorced in 1992, and she died in 2007. Jim Bakker lives in Branson, Mo., according to Randolph-Wright.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Peter Marks