There may a book out titled Born for This, but this one is not based on that work. It is an autobiography by BeBe Winans of his life up to now. Born in Detroit, he was one of 10 children, and his family was deeply into religion and singing praises. He was always wanting to sing and had some problems vis-a-vis four of his brothers who had started a singing career as The Winans.
Their father was pretty rigid in his beliefs and attitudes, but always was a source of encouragement. When they were teenagers, Benjamin (a/k/a BeBe) and his sister Priscilla (a/k/a CeCe) got their first big break when they auditioned to go on before the cameras as backup singers for the televangelist programs, The PTL Club; which were the business of Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker. They wound up moving down to North Carolina where they lived and worked on the Bakker properties.
The play relates a lot of the stresses of those days, when many who raised their hands to praise The Lord, meant Their Lord, not whoever worried about Black folks, then when CeCe decided it was time for her to marry, and when BeBe left the PTL Club to follow his own dreams. It’s not fiction, inasmuch as we all know that life is what happens as you wait for your plans to work out.
This show was written by BeBe in collaboration with Director Charles Randolph-Wright. The 17 players go through many numbers composed by BeBe, with great costume changes, a wonderful set which easily morphs, and terrific singing, and a live musical combo.
Most of the comedy comes from Kirsten Wyatt who plays Tammy Faye. Juan Winans plays Bebe while Deborah Joy Winans plays CeCe. In Act II you also meet Kiandra Richardson who comes on as Whitney Houston, and she also has great pipes. Unless you are deeply into the more than 2 dozen numbers sung by the majority of the cast, you may not recall any of the lyrics nor melodies. But, that’s the situation with many genres in the music world.
But the story remains center stage and it’s all about family. The family you grow up in, the family you create, the family that later develops and the pluses and minuses of every step along the path. The show plays in the theatre at Woodruff Arts Center, and for more info check it out at AllianceTheatre.org