Bingo. "The Winning Musical." Get it? Subtle, it ain't. Neither was the show, presented recently at the AllWays Lounge and Theatre, but it had some saving graces in sheer nonsense and an irresistible cast.
Bingo begins with a burst of thunder, lightning and rain. A hurricane, you'd think, but the play, which opened Off-Broadway a few years ago, is not set on the Gulf Coast.
Verna, Patsy and Honey (Tracey Collins, Rebecca Rae and Dorian Rush) debate whether to drive to their weekly gambling excursion in this severe weather by singing the show's anthem: "What's a little rain to a night with girls?"
Minnie (Becky Allen) enters her bingo hall with a flashlight because the power has gone out. Her sideman Sam (Dennis Monn) fires up the generator. There is some talk about the game, which involves the audience, all of whom have bingo cards. This sort of participation continues through the show. When the trio enters, they sit at a table onstage, because, much to Verna's annoyance, someone in the audience is sitting in her lucky seat. Annoyance is Verna's strong suit, and she's the tough guy of the gang. Rush is a blonde who is not playing with a full deck. Patsy is obsessed with good luck charms, like troll dolls and dyed rabbits' feet.
Sam is the bingo caller, and he's also Honey's secret heartthrob. Their love duet "Gentleman Caller" is charming.
There's just so much fun you can get out of G-59, N-21 and O-72, so creators Michael Heitzman, Ilene Reid and David Holcenberg threw in a zany melodrama. It's implausible and confusing, but the brio of the cast makes it delightful anyway.
The raging storm reminds the women of a night 15 years ago when they came to play bingo with a fourth longtime friend. The friend Beatrice (Kathleen Cafiero) was close to Verna, but there was confusion when both of them simultaneously bought second cards. Beatrice got a bingo, and in a fury, Verna ended the friendship and banished Beatrice from the group.
Returning to the present, a mysterious young bingo player named Allison (Caroline Fourmy) enters, and revives the controversy with a few plot twists and sentimental indulgences. Musical director/accompanist Harry Mayronne Jr. and director Chris Wecklein created an enjoyable show. — DALT WONK