As an adolescent, I found comfort in the lyrics of several gospel artists, one of which was BeBe Winans. In the mist of my storms, I was able to find refuge in the smooth uplifting melodies of his albums, which ministered directly to my situations.
With that said, it brought me great joy to hear that the director of Motown: the Musical, Charles Randolph Wright, announced that he has written and is to direct the world-premiere stage musical Born For This: The BeBe Winans story at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA debuting January 2016 and running through February 14, 2016.
Born For This has been in the works for nearly a decade, and has been stated to showcase BeBe and CeCe Winans “heart-warming and hilarious journey toward self- discovery”.
Detroit natives BeBe and CeCe Winans, youngest siblings of the Winans family dynasty, experience the ultimate in culture shocks when invited to join Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise The Lord Network television show. The teenaged Winans become not only television celebrities, but also the “adopted children” of the Bakkers, integrating TV evangelism in Pineville, North Carolina. As BeBe and CeCe encounter fame, fortune, and even a young Whitney Houston, BeBe must learn to balance his desire for success with his true calling.
This production featuring new music written by BeBe, will reportedly incorporate a new generation of Winans to play the young brother and sister.
The full cast has not yet been released. However, during a private reading/workshop that had media mogul and Broadway producer, Oprah in the audience, as well as legendary Cicely Tyson, a few familiar faces were seen. Those faces included Syndee Winters, Alan H. Green, Dyllon Burnside, & Bryan Terrell Clark.
Bebe Winans recently did an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talking about the development of this new musical. Check out a snippet below:
On sharing his memories: “So much of it is a coming-of-age story, where we left home (in Detroit) and all the things we knew, which was pretty much a black-oriented school and church. And we were thrust into the South, where there were 4,000 (PTL Ministry) employees and four of them were African-American.
“It was a life-changing experience. We dealt with being away from home, we dealt with racism, we dealt with little things that were so different. Sports to me was basketball. And I found myself rock-climbing. I didn’t know that was a sport…”
On collaborating with “Motown the Musical” director Charles Randolph-Wright:“He’s very, very talented, and he knows my story, so it was easy to trust him. One thing I never will forget, he brought (a scene) to me, and it talked about threats on me and my sister. And I said, ‘I don’t remember no threats, Charles.’
“Then I was having dinner with Jim Bakker, who is still an incredible friend and father figure to me, love him with all my heart. And I gave him some of the script and told him that I had allowed Charles to take some leeway and that he had put in that we had had some threats. And Jim looked at me said, ‘Oh, there were a lot of threats.’
“He had protected us from them.”
On his Broadway hopes for the musical: “That’s the Alliance’s goal, that’s our goal, that’s the Arena Stage’s goal. Oh yes, it is Broadway bound!”
READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW ON ARTSCULTURE BLOG HERE
Just the idea of this production hits home for me, seeing that I spent much of my spare time in church. Strongly encourage those in the Atlanta area to mark this production on their calendars. I know how much of a blessing his music was to my life and I can only imagine what blessings are in store for those who take the time to support this man of God. I’ll be first in line when it comes to Broadway.
Michael Jackson Bio-Musical Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough Will Open in Chicago Ahead of Broadway
The musical inspired by the life of the deceased pop icon Michael Jackson has found its title, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough. Still in development after a reading in June of last year, the musical, named after Jackson’s classic song from the 1979 album Off The Wall, will incorporate the Jackson music catalog.
Focusing on Jackson’s career in his 20s–30s, Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage is attached as the book writer and Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph.
Announced by the Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage, the highly anticipated musical will have an out of town run in Chicago starting October 29th and running through December 1st, 2019 at Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre (formerly the Oriental Theatre) before transferring to Broadway in 2020.
Harry Belafonte Life Story Bound For Broadway
The Broadway stage rights for the life story of the 91-year-old great American singer, songwriter, actor and activist, Harry Belafonte, have been obtained by Broadway producer Ken Davenport (Once On This Island, Spring Awakening)
A timeline, creative team, and casting for the as-yet-untitled new musical to be announced at a later date.
Belafonte made his Broadway debut in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac in 1953 for which he won a Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony Award. His Broadway credits include 3 for Tonight, Moonbirds, a special concert entitled Belafonte at the Palace, & Asinamali!
Harry Belafonte said, “The live theater opened up so many worlds for me as a young man. From the moment I saw professional actors on stage, I knew I could find a way forward in life as a performer and as an activist. Will humility, it brings me great joy that my story will now become a stage production that I hope will inspire audiences to follow their own dreams.”
Ken Davenport said, “Harry Belafonte is one of the most influential and respected Americans of the past century. I’m excited to be working with Mr. Belafonte to bring his powerful life story, about a son of immigrants who made a profound impact on the lives of Americans and millions of people around the world, to the theatrical stage. An outspoken Civil Rights and political activist, Mr. Belafonte has been confidante and advisor to President John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Dr. Martin Luther King, among many other leaders. To this day he remains a leading advocate for humanitarian causes. Harry Belafonte is also beloved for his unparalleled career as an acclaimed Academy Award, Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-winning producer, actor and singer of many best-selling hit recordings including “The Banana Boat Song,” “Matilda” and “Jump in the Line.”
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