Review: Island Players score a winner with delightful 'Queen of Bingo'

Article Highlights

  • "The Queen of Bingo" runs May 4 - 19
  • Tickets are $18; call 239-394-0080 or theateronmarco.com
Michelle Langlas (Sis) and Judith Gangi (Babe) star in the Island Players comedy 'The Queen of Bingo.'

Photo courtesy the Island Players

Michelle Langlas (Sis) and Judith Gangi (Babe) star in the Island Players comedy "The Queen of Bingo."

Full event details »

What: Two sisters share bingo chips and secrets in this charming comedy

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through May 19

Where: Rose History Auditorium at the Marco Island Historical Museum, 180 South Heathwood Dr., Marco Island

Cost: $18

Information: theateronmarco.com

Concessions: Buy hot dogs and more from the BeachDogs concession cart during intermission; get extra chances at the "special prize" buy buying extra bingo cards

Play Along: Get extra chances at the "special prize" by buying extra bingo cards!

On the Web: Sign up to receive more theater news from the Stage Door blog via email.

Bingo. Five letters. An entire world of social, cultural and prize-winning opportunities. The Island Players explore them all during their season-ending comedy "The Queen of Bingo," a simple, but heart-warming charmer about two sisters, a pile of bingo chips and lots of love.

"The Queen of Bingo" catches Sis (Michelle Langlas) and Babe (Judith Gangi) during bingo night at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Over the rattle of bingo balls, the patter of a smooth-talking caller and the smell of sweat from the boy's locker room, the women come to terms with life, love, winning and losing. Jeanne Michels and Phyllis Murphy wrote the show.

While "The Queen of Bingo" isn't deep or thought-provoking, it does serve up a plentiful helping of laughs. Co-directors Scott Lilly and Kevin Moriarty take the slim script and embellish it as much as they can. Gangi's comedic skills, honed during the past few years at Naples City Improv, also help lift the show immeasurably.

Gangi and Langlas share some wonderful chemistry on stage. The directors work with that, allowing the actresses to banter at a brisk pace, bicker like sisters or get into the fury of a bingo game. For all that the show features just two women talking, "Bingo" zooms by on a light cloud of giggles.

The show come steeped in the culture of bingo halls, Big Diamonds, daubers and Cover-Alls. Bingo (and its superstitions) remains enough a part of our shared culture that audiences can laugh as Langlas unpacks a huge bag filled with bingo supplies, good luck tokens and a coffee thermos - then giggle again as Gangi arrives with a 7-Eleven mug the size of Connecticut, troll dolls and a prayer candle she lights over her cards.

While the light-hearted show focuses mainly on silliness (characters in the bingo hall, an escaped mouse, Babe's attempts to evade love-happy Coach Anderson), it does (briefly) veer into the serious. Widower Sis struggles with loneliness, while Babe fights the battle of the bulge. Surprise, surprise - bingo turns out to be the answer to both their prayers.

The script never does treat any topic with real dignity though, and some of the jokes skirt the line of insensitivity. It is a credit to the actresses and directors that most of the material - especially Babe's long speech about her weight - manage to be funny.

Gangi dives into the hyper-active, hyper-sensitive Babe with glee, waving troll dolls over her cards for good luck, screaming at the caller and being the picture of every loud, obnoxious bingo maven you've ever encountered. Her improv gifts allow her to know exactly when to pump up a scene with a yell, a scream or an exaggerated reaction or simply toss a used-up dauber into the trashcan for "two points!"

Newcomer Langlas gives prim, proper life to the more orderly Sis. Every photo and charm is in position, every thread on the powder-blue pantsuit in place and every hair in the neat gray bob hair-sprayed to within an inch of its life. Her long monologue, about finally being a winner, serves as the real heart of the play - as Sis discovers herself and what matters. Langlas plays the moments of self-discovery beautifully.

"Queen of Bingo" comes complete with a segment that allows the audience to play a game of bingo for prizes. Lilly and Moriarty rightly enhance this segment - playing it for major laughs. They wrote additional comedy bits for the previously unseen character of "Flo McPheeny," now played in turn by Angella Anderson and Rachel Gallentine and beefed up Ray Kane's Father Francis. The pair bring lively sass to the moment - especially when Kane offers up a silent prayer for forgiveness after glancing at Flo's rather perky ... assets.

The audience went absolutely bananas for this segment. After intermission, which includes a trip to an authentic concession stand (the BeachDogs mobile hot dog cart), the crowd plays bingo for a special prize - one I'm sworn not to reveal. Some bingo fanatics bought extra cards (one comes free in the program) and a couple regulars even had daubers!

The air was electric as bingo queens with six or eight cards screamed "SLOW DOWN" at the caller (a velvet-voiced Jeff Manning) as they tried to keep up. A first bingo brought groans - then cheers as it was revealed as a "bongo," the patron being mistaken. Tension built, with audience members calling out "I need O-68" or waving their cards excitedly in the air. Finally ... "BINGO!"

This one's a winner. "The Queen of Bingo" delights as two quirky sisters share confidences over bingo cards and a mountain of chips. Judith Gangi brings a barrel full of laughs to her crazy Babe, while Langlas gives quiet grace to Sis. Buy extra cards for the post-intermission game - and be sure to wink at the lovely Flo!

B-I-N-G-O! B-I-N-G-O! And Bingo was his name-o! Email me, csilk@naplesnews.com, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.

Full Disclosure: The BeachDogs mobile hot dog cart is operated by Chris Quinton; Quinton is the son of Mary Quinton, an staff member of the Naples Daily News. The Marco Eagle, one of the community publications of the Naples Daily News, is also a community supporter of the Island Players.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features