After Rave Reviews on the Road, “Tammy Faye” Comes Home to Athens

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Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble, Southeast Ohio’s professional theater company, has announced performance dates for Tammy Faye’s Final Audition.

The play received rave reviews in Cincinnati and Washington, DC, where it’s been previously performed. Now Brick Monkey is presenting the comedy-drama January 14-23, 2016, at the Hahne Theater on the campus of Ohio University in Athens.

Tammy Faye Bakker was the sweetheart of Christian TV in the 1970s and ’80s until scandal and fraud brought the empire crashing down. The play shows her as she nears the end of her life, attempting to make a comeback. In a fevered dream, she enlists the men in her life to audition for one final TV show.

Many Brick Monkey supporters saw a reading of an earlier version of the script at ARTS/West in the spring of 2014. Last summer the production toured to Fringe Festivals in Cincinnati, Washington, DC, and New Jersey.

“We had the luxury of performing the play for an audience, making changes to the script, and performing again,” explained playwright Merri Biechler. “It’s such a deliberate and helpful process for new play development.”

The play has evolved into a luscious production with elaborate costumes, wigs, makeup, sound and video design. Director Dennis Lee Delaney, together with costume and scenic designer C. David Russell, and lighting designer Daniel Winters, has created a realm that may or may not be in the head of lead character Tammy Faye Bakker Messner.

Shelley Delaney stars in Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble's production of "Tammy Faye's Final Audition." (photo provided)
Shelley Delaney stars in Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble’s production of “Tammy Faye’s Final Audition.” (photo provided)

“The aesthetics of the world have continued to grow bolder,” said Delaney. “Who can say no to a mirror ball? Or a little more ‘bedazzling’ of the props?”

But don’t expect a cartoon version of Tammy Faye Bakker to camp it up onstage. The production has taken care to honor the legacy of the oft-lampooned televangelist. Mrs. Bakker was kind-hearted Christian who embraced diversity in her ministry. She famously welcomed a gay man with AIDS on her TV show in 1985, long before her conservative contemporaries.

“She was an incredibly complex person,” actress Shelley Delaney said of the woman she’s playing. “It’s easy to make fun of the makeup, but I wasn’t interested in a surface portrayal.”

Audiences will be treated to a beautifully crafted performances by Ms. Delaney and her cast mate, New York actor Chris Mixon. Mr. Mixon plays multiple roles, ranging from Jim Bakker to TV talk show personality Jim J. Bullock.

Brick Monkey made the difficult decision to take a year off from producing its perennial favorite An Appalachian Christmas Carol. Instead, the company is excited to bring Tammy Faye back home to Athens and show audiences what they’ve been doing for the last 18 months.

Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble is supported by the Ohio Arts Council and the Kleinpenny Educational Fund.


WHO: Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble presents Tammy Faye’s Final Audition

WHERE: The Hahne Theater, Kantner Hall, Ohio University, 17 S. College Street, Athens, Ohio

WHEN: Friday, Jan 15—Saturday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 17 at 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 23 at 4 p.m.

TICKETS: $18 for adults, $16 for seniors 60+, and $14 for non OU students, free for Ohio University students. Available at