Written by | Ray Cornelius
It was a family affair Saturday night as the entire Winans clan and Jim Bakker gathered for the world premiere of BeBe Winans new musical “Born For This.” The show is playing now thru May 15 at Atlanta’s famed Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff Art Center.
The two-hour musical follows gospel singing brother and sister duo, BeBe and CeCe Winans as they join Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise The Lord (PTL) Network television show. The Winans teenagers become not only television celebrities, they also become like 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.
Charles Randolph-Wright with Deborah Joy, Juan, Sophia and BeBe Winans
“Born For This” features the next generation of Winans singers – Juan and Deborah Joy Winans and boy do they nail it as their aunt and uncle. Kirstin Wyatt steals the show as the over-the-top Tammy Faye Bakker. Chaz Pofahl, Nita Whitaker and Milton Craig Nealy are also outstanding as Jim Bakker, Mom Winans and Pop Winans. But that Kiandra Richardson as Whitney Houston is the true highlight of the musical. She not only looks like the late singer but she sounds and moves just like her. She was so convincing that I even yelled “Sang Nippy” during her show stopping number, “Don’t Live for the Applause.”
BeBe Winans embracing Jim Bakker on the red carpet
“I love this man. I love this man. He has continued to give me and my sister a platform for all our lives and I honor him,” said BeBe Winans about Jim Bakker during last night’s curtain speech.
Celebrities in attendance included Congressman John Lewis, actress Jasmine Guy, actor E. Roger Mitchell, “Underground” actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell, legendary gospel singer Edwin Hawkins, actress and singer Chandra Currelley, book author and playwright Pearl Cleage, gospel singers Tasha Cobbs,Ted Winn and Isaac Carree, actress Tinashe Kajese-Bolden and “Blackbird” star Julian Walker.
BeBe Winans with long-time friend and actress Jasmine Guy
Winans Family attendees included Mom Winans, Marvin Winans, Michael Winans, Carvin Winans, Angie Winans, Debbie Winans and a host of nieces and nephews. Jim Bakker attended with his current wife Lori Bakker. Former PTL employee Penny Hollenbeck, who is portrayed by Alison Whitehurst in the show, was also in attendance as well as Pat and Gary Houston. Unfortunately CeCe Winans, Oprah Winfrey, Cissy Houston and Tyler Perry were unable to attend.
BeBe Winans giving the curtain call speech with the cast and family on stage
The show closed out with a rousing curtain call where BeBe welcomed his family and Jim Bakker to the stage. He thanked a number of supporters and close friends followed by a reprise of the musical’s closing number, “Book of Life (He Signed My Name).”
On a personal note…Seeing this show and having the privilege to watch it evolve from last year to this year has been a true blessing. It is a production that I highly recommend for anyone who chasing their dreams. It has an eternal message of hope and the characters are real and inspiring. It will make you laugh and cry but most of all, it will make you believe in the power of faith.
Check out more amazing photos from the red carpet premiere below:
Michael, Carvin, BeBe and Marvin Winans
Debbie, BeBe and Angie Winans
BeBe with Mom Winans
The Winans Family with Charles Randolph-Wright
Marvin Winans sharing a laugh with Jim Bakker
BeBe embracing Congressman John Lewis on the red carpet
Congressman John Lewis, Donald Lawrence, Charles Randolph-Wright and
The Bakkers with The Winans Family
BeBe with Warren Adams, Charles Randolph-Wright and Donald Lawrence
BeBe with actress and singer Chandra Currelley
BeBe with former “Oprah Winfrey Show” EP Dianne Hudson
Gospel singer Tasha Cobbs
Pat and Gary Houston with Rayah Houston and Justin Cade
Pearl Cleage and her daughter Deignan
Imara Canady with Alliance Theatre’s Marjon Wolfe and Michael Winn
Barry Wright, Leatrice Ellzy, Jasmine Guy and Stan Washington
Actor Julian Walker
ASPiRE TV staff with Congressman John Lewis
Isaac Carree and wife with Marvin Winans
Michael Winans and wife with Josiah and Jurnee Smollett-Bell
Jasmine Guy with her former dance instructor Lee Harper
Gospel singers Ted Winn and Edwin Hawkins
Charles Randolph-Wright with Mom Winans
Isaac Carree meeting Jim Bakker
Charles Randolph-Wright talking to the audience during the curtain call
Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com