Local professional theater group Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble is producing Tammy Faye's Final Audition, a play about the famed televangelist, for two weeks. It stars OU Associate Professor of Theater Shelley Delaney.

Merri Biechler and Shelley Delaney are bringing Tammy Faye home.

After having been performed in New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Cincinnati, Biechler’s play about famed 1980s televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker Messner — known commonly as Tammy Faye — is returning to Athens.

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Starting Thursday, Ohio University and local professional theater troupe Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble will produceTammy Faye’s Final Audition for two weeks in the Hahne Theater in Kantner Hall.

Only 45 tickets will be sold for each performance. General admission is $18, but the show is free for OU students. OU students can pick up tickets at the theater one hour before showtime.

With her husband Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye was a famous Christian TV figure. She and Bakker were founding members of The 700 Club and hosted the PTL Club, which stands for “Praise the Lord” — both talk show-like TV programs — from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s.

Their empire began to crumble when scandal and fraud led to Jim being arrested.

In Tammy Faye’s Final Audition, Tammy Faye is attempting a comeback near the end of her life. In a fevered dream, she interviews the men in her life to get help for a final audition for one last TV show.

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The play hasn’t been performed in public in Athens since the reading of a first draft nearly two years ago.

“I am so thrilled that we’re able to do it in our hometown,” Biechler, a local playwright and the managing director of Brick Monkey, said. “Many of our donors and people who come to see (Brick Monkey) saw the reading a year and a half ago and have been curious about it ever since. It’s great to get to come full circle and let them see the entire production.”

Delaney, an OU associate professor of theater, said she is excited to have a piece of theater ready in the first week of the semester to “recharge” and “fuel the students.”

Delaney, who will play Tammy Faye in the play, has been fascinated by Tammy Faye since her final interview on Larry King Live in 2007, which occurred seven hours before her death. Delaney’s interest led her to actually ask Biechler to write a play about Tammy Faye for her.

Previously, Associate Professor of Performance David Haugen played the roles of the men in Tammy Faye’s life. For the Athens production, New York-based professional actor Chris Mixon will play her husband Jim Bakker, her son Jamie “Jay” Bakker, her second husband Roe Messner and former talk show co-host Jim J. Bullock.

Most people under the age of 35, Biechler said, might not remember Tammy Faye, but Delaney said her impact is deeper than her famous makeup look of thick mascara, big jewelry and high-pitched voice.

“I think that … all people are struggling to figure out who they are and their places in the world, particularly in college,” Delaney said. “I think in the deepest way and the funniest way, she just continued to try to figure herself out — even with one foot in the grave.”

Being in the audience will be like being in the audience of a talk show, Delaney said. She added that having friendly faces in the audience has helped her understand Tammy Faye more.

“Tammy loves everybody. She loves every person through the camera or in front of her,” Delaney said. “She was always seeking that kind of connection. She wanted everyone to feel like friends.”

@buzzlightmeryl

mg986611@ohio.edu

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