2015 Capital Fringe Preview #33: ‘Tammy Faye’s Final Audition’ by Merri Biechler

In her professional acting career, Shelley Delaney has portrayed Joan of Arc and Lady Macbeth. But there was always one person she wanted to tackle: Tammy Faye Bakker.

Shelley Delaney (Tammy Faye). Photo by  Daniel R. Winters.
Shelley Delaney (Tammy Faye). Photo by Daniel R. Winters.

Most people know Tammy Faye as the wife of disgraced televangelist Jim Baker and for her extravagant makeup. But Tammy Faye had a way of staying in front of the camera throughout her life; her final appearance on Larry King Live in 2007 took place hours before her death from colon cancer.


Tammy Faye Bakker 1987. Tammy Faye Bakker in 1987 AP Photo / Mark Humphrey.
Tammy Faye Bakker 1987. AP Photo / Mark Humphrey.

“Jim, can you hear me? I just met a PTL partner at the pool this afternoon whose name is Judy. She said becoming a PTL partner was the best thing she ever did. To everyone watching at home, these are tears of joy! Judy said she saw you on TV, Jim, and God spoke to her. God told her to withdraw her savings and become a PTL partner that very day. Becoming a partner allowed her and her family to vacation here at Heritage USA and give her family the best vacation they’ve ever had! These are tears of joy!”

“I had always been fascinated by Tammy Faye Bakker, even in graduate school when I stumbled onto the PTL club quite by accident,” Ms. Delaney explained. “The theatricality, seeming innocence, and lack of irony riveted me. But it wasn’t until her final interview with Larry King that I got the notion I wanted to explore (as an actor) what made her tick as a human being.”

“Tammy Faye was defined by the men in her life,” explains playwright Merri Biechler. “We couldn’t imagine Tammy Faye without her husband Jim Bakker, or her punk preacher son Jamie Charles Bakker.” David Haugen is spectacular portraying her partners in crime, which also include talk show co-host Jim J. Bullock, and her second husband Roe Messner. Mr. Haugen’s ability to slip in and out of character is astonishing and keeps the comedy fast-paced and theatrical.

Shelley Delaney (Tammy Faye) and David Haugen (Jim Bakker). Photo by Daniel R. Winters.
Shelley Delaney (Tammy Faye) and David Haugen (Jim Bakker). Photo by Daniel R. Winters.


Tammy Faye, what do you see in Stan?


He’s handsome, he’s kind.


He’s like a limp soggy biscuit.


Jim Bakker, don’t you say that. You’re reckless.


I’d rather be reckless than boring.


You are not boring. Why do you want to ask me out?


Because I see you and me taking on the world.


I’m 17 and dating another boy.


But you’re going to marry me. This is what I see. I see us getting married and starting our own ministry together. I’m going to preach God’s word and you’ll be standing beside me. Supporting me, helping me.


I want that, too!


Together, we will win the world to Jesus!

With director Dennis Lee Delaney attached to the production, the foursome spent months digging through documents and hours of video research to find the story beneath the façade.

Ms. Delaney agrees. “I’m struck with Tammy Faye’s apparent authenticity, her unflappable nature, and of course the mask of makeup. What’s behind it all? I’m only beginning to have a hint, which is what makes it so appealing and challenging.”

Join Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble for Tammy Faye’s Final Audition.



Dance Place: Brookland Artspace Lofts Studio-
3305 8th Street NE, IN Washington, DC 20017

Thursday 7/9 at 8:15 PM
Saturday 7/11 at 4:15 PM
Sunday 7/12 at 1:30 PM
Tuesday 7/14 at 6:15 PM