Journey back to the late 1960s on the television set of Tom and Penny’s Yard Party: an evangelical show for children on WJIK-TV (Where Jesus Is King). Tom and Penny are a young married couple who broadcast their wholesome “Jesus loves you!” message to living rooms across the country. As the stress of off-camera station politics and the reality of their troubled marriage come to a head, Tom and Penny’s world begins to unravel, and we see a far less polished side to our Bible-thumping hosts. When Penny reads a fan letter from the mother of an odd young boy in the studio audience, everything falls apart–live and on-air.
This award-winning comedy takes place in 1967, on the set of a so-called “Christian Kiddie Show” in the studios of WJIK-TV (“Where Jesus Is King TV”) and satirizes the early days of religious broadcasting. The cast of characters (inspired by the likes of Jim and Tammy Bakker and Pat Robertson) includes Tom and Penny Sue Babar (the young married couple and hosts of the kiddie show, who are motivated by a confusing mix of show-biz ambitions and religious fervor) and Mick Patterson (founder of WJIK-TV and host of “The Countdown Club.”) With a comedic style that brings to mind a mash-up of Beth Henley and Christopher Durang, “Tom & Penny’s Yard Party” won the Best Play of the Year Award at the 1990 Deep South Writer’s Conference.
It’s a cold and stormy night in November of 1967, and in the small studios of WJIK-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia, emotional storms are raging on the set of “Tom & Penny’s Yard Party,” as everyone prepares for that night’s broadcast.
Because of the foul weather outside, only four children have showed up to be part on the show’s on-air audience. One of them is a mysterious, introverted little boy carrying a big suitcase, who throws temper tantrums if provoked.
Also throwing temper tantrums are the show’s adult hosts—Tom and Penny Babar—who are cracking under the pressures of married-life, a new baby and career ambitions. Once the cameras roll, both put on big cheerful smiles, though their frustrations (and a lot of venom) seep out during the live broadcast.
Complete comic chaos ensues when, during the show’s viewer mail segment, the identity of the mysterious little boy with the suitcase is revealed. Will the broadcast be saved? What about Tom and Penny’s careers and marriage? The answers to these questions and more are revealed through marital spats, temper tantrums, “hissy fits,” a sing-along, a puppet show, Bible cartoons, the desertion of a child, an attempted suicide, a police investigation and an exorcism!
Tune in! This divinely dark comedy is sure to make you a true believer.
Penny Sue Babar - A short, perky, petite 25 year old Southern girl with big eye lashes, big hair, big dreams—and a big assortment of emotional baggage
Tom Babar - Penny’s 27 year old TV evangelist husband; an energetic, overly-ambitious man/child who’s always smiling—except when having one of his frequent manic mood-swings. Like his wife, he also comes with lots of emotional baggage
Mic Peterson - A shrewd, calculating 37 year-old former-lawyer and the son of a U.S. senator, now turned TV evangelist and TV station owner
Uncle Lou - A big loveable Teddy Bear of a middle aged man; not the brightest bulb on the tree
Detective Simpson - A middle-aged, plain spoken, down-earth police detective; smarter than he’s lets on
Sandra Gomer - A 25 year old, struggling single mother and waitress
Willy Gomer - Sandra’s introverted 7 year old son
David - A Jewish boy between the ages of 10 and 12
Yolanda - A black girl between the ages of 10 and 12
Kitty- A very proper little white girl, age 9
Setting: The action takes place on set of the “Tom and Penny’s Yard Party” TV show in the (currently under reconstruction) studios of WJIK-TV (“Where Jesus Is King!”) in Portsmouth, Virginia. It is a stormy Friday night in November 1967.
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Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The required materials for Tom And Penny’s Yard Party include:
Print Edition – Beautifully bound scripts available at wholesale costs to sell in your lobby!
Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.
Logo/PR Pack – Includes high-resolution artwork, ready-designed posters, and reference photos.