IT's last show B-4 summer
Musical offers chance to dance in your seat, win prizes
By Fayana Richards
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.02.2008
Lucky charms, superstitions and rituals are all a part of the subculture tapped into in "Bingo, a Winning New Musical," which Invisible Theatre opens next week.
In nearly every bingo hall, there's the player with several trolls on her table, the one who doesn't want any talking, or the woman who prays before she begins, said director Susan Claassen in a phone interview.
A relatively new musical, "Bingo" is about a group of friends who establish their friendship around the game, Claassen said.
Eventually, the friends have a falling-out. But 15 years later, they come back together again.
Vern, Patsy and Honey are from different walks of life, but "it really is a celebration of friends," said Claassen.
"Underneath it all, this game of bingo has this unlikely connection to bring these people together again."
Based on the book by Michael Heitzman and Ilene Reid, "Bingo" gets audience members involved by playing real bingo games during the musical. Winners even win prizes.
"I think it makes it so much fun this way," said Betsy Kruse-Craig, whose character, Honey, is in love with the bingo caller. "We had to get a real bingo board and blower."
The entire cast took a trip to a local bingo hall to immerse themselves in the bingo world, Kruse-Craig said. They brought along a green-haired troll and got pointers from the bingo caller, but it didn't help the cast: They went home empty-handed that night.
"I didn't see my character when we went to the bingo, but Honey would go at night," Kruse-Craig said. "She's probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but she's very sweet."
This musical comedy will have audience members dancing out of their seats and even getting to join in on the fun, said Claassen, who thought the musical would be a good way to end the season.
"They will be able to relate to some of the men and women," Claassen said. "Especially if you have lost a friend over a silly thing called pride."
● Fayana Richards is a University of Arizona journalism senior who is apprenticing at the Star.
Clockwise from left, Leona Mitchell, Kylie Arnold, Betty Craig
and Betsy Kruse-Craig in Invisible Theatre's production of
Tim Fuller / Courtesy of Invisible Theatre