A new musical about Tammy Faye Bakker, the singing televangelist whose colorful life and collapsed ministry have repeatedly been dramatized for stage and screen, is pledging to open on Broadway next season.
The show, called “Tammy Faye,” features music by Elton John and lyrics by Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters. The musical had a run last year at the Almeida Theater in London, where the critic Matt Wolf called it “spectacularly entertaining.”
The musical is being directed by Rupert Goold, the artistic director of the Almeida and a two-time Tony nominee for the plays “Ink” and “King Charles III.” The book is by James Graham, a prolific English playwright whose previous Broadway outings include “Ink” and the musical “Finding Neverland.”
John and Shears, although best known for their careers in pop music, have both worked extensively in theater. John has written songs for many shows, including “The Lion King”; won a Tony Award for “Aida”; and is now also reworking a musical adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada” that was poorly received during an initial production in Chicago. Shears has not only written theater songs, but also performed in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway, and is currently starring in “Cabaret” in London.
“Tammy Faye” explores the life and work of Bakker (she used the surname Messner in her final years), who had an enormously successful, and lucrative, television ministry in the 1970s and 1980s, that fell apart when her husband and partner in ministry, Jim Bakker, was indicted and then imprisoned for fraud.
She was known for her big hair, her big personality and her big heart — her compassion for people with AIDS made her a popular figure among gay people often shunned by evangelicals. The musical explores her life in the context of the rise of a politically potent religious right in the United States.
Bakker’s arc has proved irresistible to storytellers. Jessica Chastain won an Academy Award playing her in the 2021 film “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” and there have been several other stage projects.
“Tammy Faye” is being produced by Rocket Stage, which is a theater production company established by John and his husband, David Furnish; Greene Light Stage, which is a production company established by Sally Greene, who has a business partnership with John; and James L. Nederlander, who is the president and chief executive of the Nederlander Organization.
The producers said Friday that the musical would open at one of the nine Nederlander Broadway houses in the 2024-25 theater season; they did not specify which theater, and did not announce any casting.
Andrew Rannells, who played Jim Bakker in London, and who is now starring in “Gutenberg! The Musical!” on Broadway, recently told Andy Cohen he was expecting the show to arrive on Broadway soon, but did not say whether he was continuing with the project.