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Elton John's writing his new musical over Zoom


For a while now, we’ve been hearing that Elton John is writing a musical based on the life of Tammy Faye Bakker, wife of 1980s televangelist Jim Bakker, who prior to her death in 2007 became a gay icon, embracing AIDS patients and supporting LGBTQ causes.  Now, his collaborator on the project confirms that the two are working together to finish the musical…over Zoom.

Appearing on the BBC program HARDTalk, British playwright and screenwriter James Graham confirmed the project, saying, “I’m writing a musical with Elton John in the moment. It’s a story that he found, actually…it’s about 1980s televangelism and how these television ministries became the largest ministries in the world, with millions of worshipers.”

He added, “It’s set in sort of Reaganite America and the tensions between faith and religion…I’m trying to make it a little bit political.”

But Graham admitted that creating such a collaborative project while both he and Elton are in lockdown isn’t easy.

“None of the great 20th century musicals were written over Skype and Zoom,” Graham joked, describing the process as a “back-and-forth tennis match,” where he gets an idea that Elton then writes a song for, or Elton gets a song idea, and he has to write it into the script.

Graham added, “I’m not gonna try play it cool. When I’m in my house and Elton Zooms me, I check [that] my background is cool enough, ’cause he’s in my house!”

He said that he and Elton will “try and finish [the musical] in lockdown,” and says it’ll premiere, “I guess, hopefully next year, when theaters reopen.”

By Andrea Dresdale
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