Tammy Faye Takes Spotlight in Musical Big Tent May 23; Leah Hocking Stars

News   Tammy Faye Takes Spotlight in Musical Big Tent May 23; Leah Hocking Stars It seemed inevitable that Tammy Faye Bakker — she of the thick lashes and mascara, piercing voice, outspoken nature, and multiple controversies — would be a character in a musical: The former televangelist was and is bigger than life, a vital ingredient in musicals.
Leah Hocking
Leah Hocking

On May 23, Big Tent, a musical about her life and times, will have a free reading in Manhattan with Broadway's Leah Hocking painting her lashes for the country-flavored show.

Produced by Tim Hur and directed by Ryan J. Davis, Big Tent "focuses on the rise and fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's Praise The Lord (PTL) television network and its controversial dealings with the late Rev. Jerry Falwell," who died May 15 at age 73.

Tammy Faye Bakker recently disclosed that she is losing a battle with cancer.

Conceived and written by Jeffery Self, Big Tent features music and lyrics by Ben Cohn and Sean McDaniel.

Hocking is known for her work in the musicals All Shook Up, The Thing About Men and Mamma Mia!. *

"A cultural icon for more than 30 years, Tammy Faye Bakker's phenomenal rise from farm girl to evangelist superstar has finally been put onstage with a terrific pop-country score," according to the producers. "Her unique style has made her beloved by mainstream Christians, as well as by gays and other outsiders whom she welcomed under her 'big tent.' In this 90-minute, six-character musical, we follow Tammy as she fights to maintain her dignity amidst sex and business scandals. Her perseverance in the face of private tragedy and public ridicule has made her a testament to the endurance of the human spirit."

Jim Stanek, of Broadway's Lestat and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, will play fallen preacher Jim Bakker.

The cast will also include Mark Aldrich as George Dortch, with previously announced "You're the One That I Want" finalist Kate Rockwell as Jessica Hahn and Allen Kendall as intolerant, right-wing preacher Jerry Falwell. The show features an ensemble including Casey Clark, Eric Briarley, Sean Montgomery, Ryan Driscoll and Lucy Sorenson.

Music director Adam Ben David will lead a four-piece rock band. Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Seussical) serves as assistant director.

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The 8 PM May 23 concert — at Off-Broadway's New World Stages at 340 W. 50th Street — is free and open to the public, and represents the show's first public viewing.

Reservations may be made by e-mailing bigtentrsvp@gmail.com. As tickets are extremely limited; reservations for more than four people will not be accepted.

For more information and excerpts from the score, visit the official Big Tent myspace site at www.myspace.com/tammymusical.

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Ben Cohn (music and lyrics) works as a musical director, pianist, and composer/arranger in and around New York City. He is currently the assistant conductor and pianist for Wicked. As a composer/songwriter, he wrote Owl Creek. He received his MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Ryan J. Davis (director/producer) recently produced and directed Mr. Broadway, a benefit at New World Stages, for The Ali Forney Center. Last summer, he directed the critically acclaimed musical, White Noise, at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

Sean McDaniel (music/lyrics) is currently the drummer for the Grammy and Tony Award-winning Monty Python's Spamalot. As a composer, he co-wrote Owl Creek. He received his MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Jeffery Self (book/conceiver/producer) recently conceived and produced the Mr. Broadway benefit for the Ali Forney Center. As a writer, he penned the musical Definition of a Housewife, produced by Columbia University and Montclair Music Theater. Other works have been produced by such regional companies as the Horizon Theater in Atlanta and Artists Collective in Los Angeles.

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