A joyous atmosphere pervaded a recent rehearsal of “Bingo! The Winning Musical” at Olympic Theatre Arts, where actors and production staff laughed and joked with each other as they prepared the musical comedy for local audiences.
“Bingo! The Winning Musical” utilizes a single evocative set — designed by Sandy Altman — to tell the story of four female friends who love to play bingo, employing flashbacks and songs to tell a story of misunderstandings and love.
Performances for “Bingo!” are set for Thursdays-Sundays, April 15-May 1, at OTA, 414 N. Sequim Ave. Tickets are $24 for adults and $15 for students (a pay-what-you will show is Thursday, April 28), and are available online at olympictheatrearts.org or by calling the box office at 360-683-7326 between 1-4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
People familiar with the game and the atmosphere of bingo halls will recognize the jokes and rituals that flow freely on bingo night and the often spare, plain setting for the chairs, tables and caller.
“It’s very joyful and very fun,” said director Kyle LeMaire, who moved here from New York City two years ago.
LeMaire is a graduate of the New York University Tisch School of Acting, according to OTA. He said this is his first full-length production at OTA, after directing last summer’s “Good-bye Cruel World,” by Susan Noyes, one of a series of New Works short plays at OTA.
Inspired costume design by Krista Edge provides pops of color contrasting with the muted set. The costumes convey the personalities of the characters and indicate relationships between each other and with their beloved bingo rituals.
Musical director Morgan Bartholick — “an accomplished symphony musician,” according to OTA — and pianist Steve Humphrey, accompany the singers live on a “stage that will be extended four feet into the audience seating area to connect the viewers more with the production.”
“This musical has more audience interaction than I’ve seen here before,” production manager Lorra Cornetet said. She explained that each member of the audience will be given a bingo card, and winners will receive a prize.
“The audience will play three games of bingo throughout the show; there are call outs and interaction between the actors and the audience,” said LeMaire.
The seven actors are a mix of familiar and new faces: Mindy Gelder plays Honey, a glamorous woman in her 40s who has a crush on the caller played by newcomer Mario Arruda. Arruda also plays a different caller in flashbacks.
OTA regulars Susan Cates and Becky Horst play two 40-something bingo enthusiasts: Patsy, a highly superstitious woman, and Bernice, cast out of the group by a triviality between her and Vern, played by newcomer Rebecca Gilbert.
Jennifer Saul commands the stage as the bingo hall operator and 13-year-old Sabrina Herbelin plays Berenice’s grown up daughter.
Herbelin’s solo “will stop the show,” said Cornetet.
Herbelin said her character is a city girl from New York City who approaches the bingo hall undercover.
“She’s never played bingo before and her mother’s old friends are teaching her how without knowing who she is,” Herbelin said.
Herbelin, a recent arrival from Orange County, Calif. and the daughter of OTA executive director David Herbelin, has been an extra in movies since she was 2 months old.
“This is only the second live thing I’ve done,” she said.
She recently participated in the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” a Missoula Children’s Theatre production staged at OTA.
“I didn’t expect to have this much fun with it,” Herbelin said. “I expected it to be stressful.”
LeMaire said he would like the musical to convey to the audience the importance of friendship, especially long lost friendship, “the importance of reunion and forgiving.”
He said that “in our chosen family, those who we become close to, one insignificant moment can change the dynamic of that relationship,” and we have the choice to “forgive or hold on” to hurt feelings or misunderstandings.
“It’s about what we lose when we hold on to that and what we can gain when we don’t,” LeMaire said, “… all wrapped up in a joyful musical about bingo.”
‘Bingo! The Winning Musical’
An Olympic Theatre Arts production
When: Thursdays-Sundays, April 15-May 1
Where: 414 N. Sequim Ave.
Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $24 adults, $15 students; Pay-what-you-will Thursday, April 28
More info: olympictheatrearts.org, 360-683-7236