Bingo, the Musical Comedy, Hopes to Make Its Mark Following NYC Workshop

News   Bingo, the Musical Comedy, Hopes to Make Its Mark Following NYC Workshop
Following an April workshop in New York City, the collaborators of the new musical, Bingo — about friends who feud as they indulge in the innocent gambling ritual — are hoping their show gets a wider audience.

Director Glenn Casale told Playbill On-Line the April 2003 workshop reading that featured Mary Testa (42nd Street), Heather Lee (Gypsy), Beth Malone, Ann Harada (Avenue Q), Sandy Binion (Showtune), Justin Greer (Seussical, Urban Cowboy) and Jeff Blumenkrantz (How to Succeed..., A Class Act) is about one-third new since the show's 2001 world premiere at the Hermosa Beach Playhouse in California.

After California, Bingo had a subsequent, popular production at the Ordway Center in St. Paul, MN, September-December 2001, and co-creators Michael Heitzman, David Holceberg and Ilene Reid (with Casale) then set out to the make the piece better.

Casale will direct a full staging of the post-workshop show in summer 2003 for the Adirondack Theatre Festival in upstate New York. That production will be seen at a community hall , much like the VFW Hall setting the script demands. Full casting has not been announced for the upstate run of the audience-participation musical where everyone plays bingo, though Beth Malone will be featured, Casale said.

"We expect it to be a very environmental production up there," Casale said, adding that the audience participation is not aggressive. "It's as interactive as a bingo game is."

Casale said he and the creators are hoping the show gets an anchor American production Off-Broadway and that the show becomes a regional cottage industry, not unlike Forbidden Broadway, Shear Madness, Forever Plaid and Nunsense. There is already interest in a Denver production and other presenters are nibbling. Casale said there is a need for small shows in venues around the country, and Bingo hopes to make its mark. Casale calls the show a musical comedy with heart, about friends who are settling a 15-year feud that involves a bingo game. The musical tells the story of the women and their bingo passion; it's a conventional book musical, not a presentational show like Nunsense.

Musical director for the workshop in Manhattan was Jan Rosenberg. The show is designed for a band of four.

Writer Michael Heitzman co-authored the Chicago musical, Vices with Ilene Reid. David Holcenberg is music director of North American productions of Mamma Mia!

Director Casale's major recent credit is the national tour and Broadway run of the reinvented Peter Pan musical starring Cathy Rigby. He will helm a tour of Camelot in fall 2004.

On the bingo night of the story, the daughter of one of the women bingo players comes back to help her mother resolve the bingo issues mom has with an old friend. There is "a terrible storm" the night of the bingo game and no one can enter or leave the VFW hall, Casale said, adding that the intermissionless show is ultimately about friendship.

Musical numbers include "Girls Night Out," "Honey's Flashback," "I Still Believe in You," "I've Made Up My Mind," "Under My Wing," "Patsy's Flashback," "Gentleman Caller," "Ratched's Lament," "Anyone Can Play Bingo," "Vern's Flashback," "Swell," "Gentleman Caller" (reprise), "I Still Believe in You" (reprise), "B4," "I've Made Up My Mind" (reprise), "Finale."

Heitzman, Reid and Holcenberg co-wrote the song "Throw That Girl Around" from the Grammy Award-nominated Swing!

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