Elton John scores Tammy Faye musical

Production opening in October portrays US evangelical star who became a gay icon because of her empathy for people with HIV/AIDS

The colorful life story of an American Christian superstar who became a gay icon because of her empathy for people with HIV/AIDS is the subject of a new stage musical with a score by Elton John.

Rehearsals began this week for the world premiere of Tammy Faye at the Almeida theater in north London in October.

As well as Elton John’s music, the show’s script was written by James Graham, the author of the television dramas Sherwood and Brexit: The Uncivil War, and the play Ink.

The show is, said the Almeida, a “testament of faith, resilience and the temptations of success.”

Tammy Faye Messner, who died in 2007, built a Christian television empire with her first husband, Jim Bakker.

  Tammy Faye was a hit. At its height, the couple’s flagship program,

The PTL Club (short for praise the lord), was seen in more than 13m households across the US.

Tammy Faye’s guileless persona and willingness to discuss subjects considered out of bounds by other Christian broadcasters won her a huge following.

 that marked her out within a religious movement characterized by homophobia. In particular, her emotional 1985 television interview with Steve Pieters

 was a break with religious and political orthodoxy. At the time, some public figures were suggesting that AIDS was a divine punishment for homosexuality.